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Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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Serves 2 to 4.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a friend’s recipe.

This recipe looks deceptively complex. It is actually fairly simple. Prepare the stuffing, stuff the chicken pieces, and cook them in tomato sauce. This is an elegant way to dress up some plain chicken breasts. For added pleasure, cook some penne pasta or other macaroni to serve on the side.

Ingredients:

½ medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce (794g) can Roma tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
¼ cup (60ml) water
1 anchovy fillet (optional)
8 ounces (227g) fresh spinach leaves, stems removed and discarded
4 ounces (113g) ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 slices prosciutto, chopped fine
Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large chicken breasts
Romano or Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

Chop the onion fairly fine. Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands, along with any sauce or purée in the can. (You can leave them whole if you prefer larger pieces of tomatoes in your sauce.) Heat to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan. Simmer according to preference. Some people like to cook their tomato sauce for an hour or more. For this recipe I cooked the sauce only as long as I needed to cook the chicken thoroughly.

In another skillet, heat water and add the (optional) anchovy filet, breaking up the fillet with a wooden spoon. Add the fresh spinach and cover. Cook until wilted, about 2 minutes, turning after 1 minute.

Transfer the cooked spinach to a bowl and let cool until comfortable to handle. Squeeze out excess moisture (use a potato ricer or your hands). Combine with the ricotta, Parmesan or Romano cheese, prosciutto, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut a deep pocket into the side of each chicken breast, cutting most of the way through to the other side. Fill the pocket with the spinach stuffing. Tie closed. Place the chicken breasts in the simmering sauce and cover the pan. Cook until the meat is cooked thoroughly (165°F/74°C). The cooking time will depend on size. About 20 minutes per side should be adequate. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

Thicken the sauce, if necessary, by increasing the heat and boiling while stirring constantly.

Serve the chicken breasts with the sauce. Pasta, such as penne, can be cooked and served on the side.