Luckily for me, my inner cook woke up and created something lovely. That hasn't been happening a whole lot lately. The recipe may look verbose, but it's not difficult.
This serves 6 for dinner -- we only had 2 of the breasts tonight and I'll detail the lunch application below for the other 4 breasts.
3 large whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts -- about 2.5 pounds
1.5 ounces basil, washed and spun dry, large leaves separated out (I can't wait for my herb garden to be producing!)
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 medium tomato, diced
- Preheat the oven to 425 F with a stoneware baking sheet (preferable) or a shallow glass or metal baking dish inside.
- Slice the mozzarella, put in a small bowl and combine with the salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice. Let marinate for a few minutes, while preparing the chicken breasts.
- Separate the chicken breasts in the middle. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into each, starting at the thick end of the breast and cutting lengthwise.
- For each breast, take a basil leaf and place one of the slices of marinated mozzarella in it and roll lengthwise, then stuff into the pocket. Repeat, so that each breast has two basil/mozzarella rolls. Make sure you have a fork to retrieve the mozzarella slices from the bowl so you don't have to use your fingers and contaminate the mozzarella with raw chicken juices.
- When the oven is ready, spray or coat the baking sheet lightly with olive oil. Spray the breasts as well. Add the breasts shiny side up to the dish (it should sizzle) and return the sheet to the oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Add the diced tomato to the remaining marinated mozzarella and mix thoroughly. Put this mixture on the table to be used to top the breasts.
- When the timer goes off, use tongs to turn the chicken breasts over. Turn off the oven and turn on the broiler on high. Broil the breasts 5 minutes one side, then turn and broil a further 5 minutes on the other side.
- While the breasts are broiling, prepare the spinach.
- When they are done, the cheese should be melted. Remove from the sheet and pour the juices from the pan over the top.
Sauteed Spinach and Shallots
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced thinly crosswise
pinch or 2 of kosher salt
9 oz fresh spinach
1 Tbs olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
- Heat a large pot, preferably something like a Le Crueset on medium heat.
- Add the olive oil and the shallots. Sauté the shallots, adding the salt, until lightly brown.
- Add the spinach in handfuls, sautéing and wilting.
- Splash with the vinegar, serve.
For lunch tomorrow, I intend to slice the remaining chicken breasts crosswise and serve them atop a tossed mixed greens salad with the remaining marinated mozzarella mixture.