Stuffing a chicken breast might seem like a fussy thing to do, something reserved for a weekend project. But it is really an easy way to elevate a rush-hour dinner. This recipe is case in point, as a mixture of roasted red peppers, green olives, fresh basil and mozzarella add punchy antipasto flavors and oozy, melted-cheese appeal to a simple chicken-and-greens meal.
After cutting a 3-inch-long slice into the thick part of the breast to form a pocket, you pack it with the four-ingredient filling, season the chicken and cook it in a skillet for a few minutes per side. Then, while the breast pieces rest on a plate, you take advantage of the browned bits left in the skillet by making a fast pan sauce. Some garlic is sauteed in olive oil in the same skillet first, then a 1/2 cup of chicken broth is added to dissolve that deeply flavorful fond left from the chicken. A finishing splash of red wine vinegar wakes it with a subtle tang.
The chicken breast, golden brown with bits of the bountiful stuffing visible, is served on top of arugula leaves (baby spinach would work as well) and the pan sauce is drizzled over the plate, wilting the leaves slightly and making for a luscious, warm dressing. The result is a quick, easy and healthful dinner that is far from basic.
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Roasted Red Pepper-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Choose chicken breast halves that are about the same size, for ease of cooking.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 3/4 pounds total, not thin-cut; without tenderloins)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red pepper
2 tablespoons pitted, chopped green olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves (may substitute 1 teaspoon dried basil)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 cups baby arugula leaves
Cut a 3-inch long pocket into the thick side of each chicken breast (without cutting all the way through to the other side).
Combine the cheese, roasted red pepper, olives and basil in a medium bowl, to form the filling. Stuff some into the pocket of each chicken breast, using all of it. Season the outside of the chicken with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the stuffed chicken breasts and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until the cheese has melted, then transfer to a plate. The chicken should be cooked through.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same skillet. Once it's hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, then pour in the broth. Once the liquid begins to bubble at the edges, stir to dissolve any browned bits in the pan. Add the vinegar and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate.
To serve, divide the arugula among individual plates. Top each portion with a stuffed chicken breast, then drizzle with the pan juices. Serve warm.
Per serving: 360 calories, 49 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 150 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar
Yield: 4 servings.