Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Erin McDowell

Through extensive research (and by “research,” we mean eating), we’ve found that certain comfort foods are equally as delicious baked as they are fried. (Fish and chips or green-bean "fries", anyone?) So we thought why not change up chicken parmigiana next? Our version of the Italian classic starts with thin chicken breasts, which we stuff with a cheese-and-spinach filling, roll up into bundles and coat lightly with bread crumbs. Then we bake the chicken--along with homemade tomato sauce and, of course, more cheese--for about 30 minutes. In the name of said research, we’re prepared to have seconds.

  • Makes 6 servings
  • Start to Finish: 1 hour

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ sweet onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Stuffed Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups spinach

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

6 thin chicken breast cutlets

2 cups seasoned bread crumbs (Italian bread crumbs with herbs and seasonings)

1 cup sliced fresh mozzarella cheese

Chopped fresh basil, for garnish (about ¼ cup)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Make the tomato sauce: In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the sauce is flavorful, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.

4. While the sauce simmers, make the stuffed chicken: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

5. Add the garlic and spinach; cook until the spinach is fully wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then stir the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses into the spinach.

6. Lay the chicken cutlets on a clean cutting board. Place about ¼ cup spinach mixture on one end of a cutlet, then roll the cutlet to encase the filling. If you have trouble keeping the cutlet together, secure it with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining cutlets and filling.

7. Pour the bread crumbs into a small bowl. Carefully roll each chicken bundle in the bread crumbs until it’s evenly coated. Set aside.

8. Assemble the dish: Pour the tomato sauce into a large casserole. Place the stuffed chicken on top of the tomato sauce. Top each piece of chicken with slices of fresh mozzarella.

9. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped basil and serve.

Finishing Touches

It's the details that count! Try these tips

  • Turn up the heat: Stir 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes into the tomato sauce (or more, to taste).

  • Add some sides: Serve the chicken along with a salad, garlic "nots" or pasta.