Healthier Chicken Parmesan with Cheesy Basil Breadcrumbs

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

Ahhhhh, yes. I made this.

And I ate this.

It tasted exactly like it looks.

Completely delicious.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

I have had a stack of tattered pages – recipes torn out from magazines – for years. Every once in a while I cull through it, looking for inspiration and knowing my tastes have changed and that I am likely not going to make each of the saved recipes. I did that again a few weeks ago.

I found a recipe from the Food Network Magazine, March 2013 issue, and although it had been in that stack for the better part of 4 years, I suddenly couldn’t wait another minute to get started.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

It was a good call. My adaptions are still pretty true to the recipe, but I made twice the sauce and reserve some for another purpose. May as well, as long as I am going to the trouble of making my own sauce!

This recipe is much healthier than a traditional chicken parmesan – and a lot faster to make, too. It can be made in half an hour if you hustle; or you can prep the chicken cutlets and breadcrumbs the day before, which will cut down your cooking time when you want to enjoy an impressive weeknight meal.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

The chicken cutlets aren’t breaded, they are just browned in the pan. If you think you will miss the breading, look for it in the sprinkling of toasted fresh cheesy basil breadcrumbs, which crisp up even more under the broiler. {Seriously, why have I not been browning fresh breadcrumbs with cheese and basil for my entire life. I used extra to top a salad – look for a post on this soon!}

This Healthier Chicken Parmesan is delicious any number of ways. Over pasta, on a hoagie roll, on its own served with a vegetable or salad, or on spiralized zucchini.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

These photos show a little less than one zucchini, and I didn’t cook it at all. It is fresh and raw, and the heat from the chicken parmesan and sauce wilted it just enough. I also packaged a serving of chicken-parm-over-zucchini-noodles to take to work, and the zucchini held up well to the minute in the microwave for the whole dish.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

I LOVE chicken parmesan, but traditionally made, it is not at all healthy enough to eat on a regular basis. This serving has only a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs and a few tablespoons of cheese, and is much more sustainable (to eat all the time). A lot of “healthier chicken parmesan” recipes are just chicken in pasta sauce. This one, though…

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

I was so surprised that the sauce was as delicious as it was with such simple and sparse ingredients. I have been dipping things in it all week.

Why don’t you try this recipe and let me know if I am exaggerating, or if this is literally the best addition to your repertoire so far this year. Because I think it is mine!

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

I could have photographed it all day. I had to restrain myself!

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

Healthier Chicken Parmesan with Cheesy Basil Breadcrumbs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This recipe is fast, healthy, and delicious. Try it on zucchini noodles or on its own with some roasted veggies.
Author:
Serves: 4 chicken cutlets
Ingredients
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • large chunk of a day-old baguette
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • .25 c grated parmesan cheese
  • 25 basil leaves, sliced thinly into chiffonade, with 2 Tablespoons portioned out
  • 28 oz can of tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, zested
  • .25 t red pepper flakes
  • .5 c shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
Prep the chicken cutlets:
  1. Cut the 2 chicken breasts into 4 thin cutlets: Remove the tender from the breast (reserve for another purpose) and trim off any unsightly parts. Very carefully slice each breast into two slices. Lay the 4 pieces in one layer in a thick one-gallon freezer bag, and lay it on a cutting board and seal it. Take a heavy pot or a meat mallet, and pound the chicken until it's thinner - one-half inch to one-quarter inch thick. You can refrigerate it like this for the next day, if you would like.
  2. Make the breadcrumbs: Cut any very hard crusts off the bread, then cut the bread into chunks. Place the chunks in a food processor and process to make coarse crumbs. Make a bit more than a cup of crumbs.
Make the cheesy basil breadcrumbs:
  1. Use either a cast iron skillet or a coated dutch oven or braiser like Le Creuset. You need to use something that can go from stove-top to oven broiler.
  2. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, and then add 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and stir often so they don't burn, until they are golden.
  4. Remove from heat and add 2 Tablespoons of grated parmesan and stir until it is distributed. Scoop the bottom of the pan often so it doesn't stick. It will melt pretty quickly.
  5. Remove the mixture to a bowl and toss with 2 T of basil strips. Cool the mixture in the bowl. If you are prepping the day before, use a tupperware with an airtight lid.
  6. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
  7. Add the chicken in a single layer, and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly group pepper, if you would like.
  8. Cook until golden on one side, and flip. Repeat until it is just cooked through, and then remove the chicken from the pan and transfer it to a plate.
Make the tomato sauce:
  1. Lower the heat to medium, and wait until the pan cools off a bit or it will spit red tomato sauce. I use a splatter screen to keep the sauce at bay.
  2. Add the tomato puree, then add one cup water, rinsing out the can on the way.
  3. Add the zested garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 Tablespoon grated parmesan.
  4. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. I leave it covered with the splatter screen during this time. Stir in the remaining basil and any juices that have pooled under the chicken.
  5. Remove 2 cups of the sauce and reserve for another purpose.
Assemble and enjoy:
  1. Turn on the broiler and place an oven rack a few inches from the element.
  2. Return the chicken to the skillet in a single layer, using a spoon to top it with sauce.
  3. Sprinkle each cutlet with the remaining 1 Tablespoon parmesan and most of the toasted breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Top each cutlet with shredded mozzarella and the remaining breadcrumbs.
  5. Broil just until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes.
Notes
I am always up for extra sauce! This recipe makes an extra 2-cup serving of tomato sauce, for freezing or dipping.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan ~ by My Utensil Crock

Adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/skillet-chicken-parmesan-recipe-2111910

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