Any meal that is golden and crunchy on the outside and oozes rich melted cheese from inside is bound to be a diet buster, right?
Not always. Though cheddar- and Gorgonzola-stuffed chicken breasts sounds like a health hazard, this recipe is totally reasonable.
To start with, boneless, skinless chicken breasts have almost no fat. Stuffing them with cheese changes that, so keeping it healthy is a matter of selecting the right cheeses.
Reduced-fat cheeses on their own can be short on flavor and not melt well. But blended with a full-fat, intensely flavored cheese such as Gorgonzola, lighter cheeses work well to create a filling that's plenty melty and quite tasty.
To add even more flavor, the coating — made from seasoned breadcrumbs — is amended with a prudent amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. To get the best flavor in your crumbs, use a high quality cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano.
How to make it
Start to finish: 40 minutes (20 minutes active)
11/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain excess water
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 ounce shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1 ounce crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup seasoned Italian-style breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large egg whites
Heat the oven to 400 F.
In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the spinach and Italian seasoning, then cook until all of the liquid has evaporated. Mix in both cheeses. Set aside.
One at a time, lay each chicken breast flat on a cutting board. Use a paring knife to make a horizontal slit along one side to create a pocket in the meat. Do not cut all the way through. Place a quarter of the cheese mixture in the pocket, then press the meat together over it. Repeat with the remaining breasts and set aside.
In a shallow dish or pie plate, mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg whites with a fork. Holding a stuffed breast together firmly, dip in the egg whites, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining breasts and set aside.
In a large ovenproof skillet over high, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil until shimmering hot. Swirl the oil around the bottom of the pan and carefully add the chicken. Cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn breasts over and place the skillet in the oven. Bake until the chicken is no longer pink at the center, about 20 minutes.