Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mozzarella-stuffed chicken breasts with Sauteed Spinach and Shallots

I really had no idea what to make tonight, and headed to the store with no list. Whatever I made had to have an associated lunch application, as we were having a play date tomorrow after church that I wouldn't have time to really cook for, but had promised lunch to the other Mom.

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
Olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F with a stoneware baking sheet (preferable) or a shallow glass or metal baking dish inside.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. While the breasts are broiling, prepare the spinach.

  9. 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

  1. Heat a large pot, preferably something like a Le Crueset on medium heat.

  2. Add the olive oil and the shallots. Sauté the shallots, adding the salt, until lightly brown.

  3. Add the spinach in handfuls, sautéing and wilting.

  4. 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.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fettucini with Tuna, Pine Nuts, Lemon and Herbs

Adapted from the Quick from Scratch Italian cookbook (I've mentioned this series of cookbooks from Food & Wine before - they are fantastic).

Kiddo helped me with this meal, which we were preparing with love for Hub who had to work late. Kiddo peeled the garlic, helped to chop the dill and the garlic, stripped the thyme leaves from the branches and juiced the lemon. What an excellent sous-chef he's turning into! Oh, and I am in love with my new citrus juicer from the Pampered Chef. That thing is amazing.

3/4 cup pine nuts
12 oz Rossi Pasta Lemon Pepper Fettucini
4 cloves garlic, minced
8-oz jar of Ortiz tuna in oil
grated lemon zest and juice from one juicy lemon - I pick smaller, heavy lemons
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1 large bunch dill weed, chopped
1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves, chopped

  1. In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts over moderately low heat until golden brown but not burnt! I always seem to burn a few.

  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fettucini until just done. Drain.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, pour the oil from the jar of tuna in and heat it. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Stir in the tuna and break it up with a fork. Remove from the heat. toss the linguine with the tuna mixture, the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt pepper, herbs and the toasted pine nuts.

Servings: 4
Calories: 786