There is a handful of my personal favorite ways to cook chicken breast. And this hasselback chicken stuffed with spinach and ricotta is definitely in the top five.
With all good reasons.
Getting a bone dry chicken breast fresh out of the oven is one of, ohh so common, pet peeves.
Nothing looks and tastes more disappointing than dry, overcooked meat.
Another very common one is lack of variety. Grilled chicken breasts are certainly a thing if you are on a diet, in a rush or simply trying to eat healthy.
But as with all things in life, balance is really important.
And one can only have so much grilled or baked chicken before starting to cringe when hearing what’s for dinner tonight.
Good news is that this spinach stuffed chicken breast will solve all those problems.
First, the filling we use not only adds flavor but also makes chicken breast incredibly moist.
Second, cooking at a high temperature for a shorter time lets the meat seal the juices in.
Third, in less than 30-40 minutes of time you have a healthy, delicious dinner on the table.
So, if at some point in life you were ready to throw in the apron on cooking a mouth-watering chicken breast…
*Not sure if that’s the original version of the saying* LOL
But this recipe will return your confidence and trust in a seriously good, healthy, tasty and fast chicken based dinner.
NOTE 1: The reason why we are covering our chicken with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs BEFORE transferring them to a baking sheet is because we don’t want those spill overs to get burned in the oven.
NOTE 2: If you noticed, we haven’t used any salt on the chicken breast itself.
On purpose. Salting chicken before cooking makes it loose all the moist. And we don’t want that.
So, just in case you need more salt, add some when it’s out of the oven.
TIP: Use parchment paper or foil if you want to make your life easier. Of course you can grease the pan and place the chicken straight away, but trust me, parchment paper is a SAVER.
Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving, so the juices settle down and you get the most flavorful and tender hasselback chicken.
- 2 halves chicken breast - approx. 1 lb
- ½ cup or 4.5 oz ricotta cheese
- 4 packed cups or 7-8 oz fresh spinach
- 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
- Handful fresh basil (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves crushed with a flat knife (optional)
- 3 tbsp bread crumbs (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, pepper to taste
If you are using pre-washed baby spinach proceed directly to the next step.
But if you are using fresh spinach from the garden or from the local market, rinse it under a cold running water several times to remove any dirt. As an alternative you can soak it in the water for a few minutes, rub lightly with hands and drain. Dry with a salad spinner or pat with a paper towel. Cut off the stems. But don’t stress too much getting your spinach completely “stem free”.
Chop rolled spinach leaves with a sharp knife.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
In a large skillet pan add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and if you have, garlic cloves crushed with a flat knife. Sautee over medium heat for 2 minutes or until garlic cloves are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them.
Remove garlic, add spinach. Sautee for 2-3 minutes until soft.
Add ricotta cheese. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste. Let it cool for a few minutes.
In the meantime, dry chicken breast halves with a paper towel and rub with some extra virgin olive oil.
Using a sharp knife, cut slits in each chicken halves crosswise. They should be approx your point finger wide and ¾ through the chicken breast. These slits will create a sort of “pockets” to stuff our chicken with spinach ricotta filling.
Pay attention to not cut through the chicken all the way through and to not destroy the pockets.
Using a spoon or a small spatula stuff each pocket with spinach ricotta filling.
Generously sprinkle first layer of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese on top. Layer with some bread crumbs and parmesan cheese again.
You can completely do without bread crumbs, which would make this hasselback chicken completely gluten free. But if you have have/can use some they’ll add a mouthwatering golden color without chicken breast being overcooked.
Transfer stuffed chicken breasts onto the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
Allow chicken to cool for about 5 minutes before serving, so the juices settle down and you get the most flavorful and tender hasselback chicken.
As always, would LOVE to know when you make it and if it makes to your bookmarked chicken recipes! 🙂