This Greek inspired chicken is filled with feta cheese, fresh spinach and roasted red peppers.
The filling keeps the bird juicy, so don't worry about serving dried-out chicken. The only rule here is to get creative. If you like olives, chop some kalamatas and use one per chicken breast. How about sun-dried tomatoes? Feel free to replace the red pepper with them. I like the spinach, feta and garlic combo, so I usually start there -- everything else is flexible.
To accompany this I made couscous flavored with lemon and a few strands of saffron. On the side you see this year's fresh asparagus with a light drizzle of lemon juice, a few drops of balsamic vinegar and toasted, slivered almonds.
This meal is quick and easy to prepare and bursting with the flavors of the Mediterranean. Don't plan on having leftovers!
Time: 40 minutes
Yield: Serves 2
2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and trimmed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp roasted red peppers (approx 1/2 of a large pepper) chopped
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp milk or water
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
Parsley (or chopped chives) for garnish
3/4 cup couscous
2/3 cup water (or broth)
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon rind
3-4 threads of saffron (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large frying pan on medium heat, cook the garlic for approximately 1 minute. You're not going to brown the garlic, just soften it. Remove from the pan and set aside. Put the spinach in the pan and cover for 2 minutes, add the garlic back to the spinach. Cook until the garlic is soft and the spinach is wilted. When they're done, place them in a mixing bowl. If you prefer, you can chop the spinach but it's not necessary. Add the peppers and mix together.
Prepare your baking dish by lightly oiling the bottom. Set aside.
In a wide, bowl or a plate, place the bread crumbs.
In a bowl large enough to hold one chicken breast, mix the yogurt and milk.
Wash chicken and pat dry. Place on a cutting board (I use one that can go into the dishwasher). Using a sharp knife, slit the thickest part of the chicken breast. Make a pocket large enough to hold half of the filling.
Fill each breast and secure the open side with toothpicks. You'll remove the toothpicks before serving.
Dip each chicken breast into the yogurt mixture, then into the bread crumbs and place in the baking dish.
Bake on the middle rack of the (preheated) oven and for 30 minutes or until the juices run clear.
While that's baking, you have 20 minutes to make a salad or side vegetable before making the couscous.
About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, bring the water to a boil with the lemon rind, saffron and olive oil. Once boiling, add couscous. Stir once, cover and remove from the heat. This will be ready in about 5 minutes. when the couscous is soft, fluff with a fork and put half the amount on each plate.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven, get rid of the toothpicks, and place each piece on top of the couscous. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.