Healthier Chicken Parmesan with Cheesy Basil Breadcrumbs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 chicken cutlets
This recipe is fast, healthy, and delicious. Try it on zucchini noodles or on its own with some roasted veggies.
  • 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
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.
Make the cheesy basil breadcrumbs:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, and then add 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs and stir often so they don't burn, until they are golden.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
Back to the chicken cutlets:
  1. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Add the chicken in a single layer, and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly group pepper, if you would like.
  3. 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.
I am always up for extra sauce! This recipe makes an extra 2-cup serving of tomato sauce, for freezing or dipping.
Recipe by My Utensil Crock at