Okay, I think it's fair to say that this is, perhaps, not the best food photo I have ever taken ... but please, don't judge a recipe by its photo ... at least in this case. What may be hard to discern at first glance is that this is a photo of a sliced chicken breast that has been stuffed with mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil. And it is delicious.
Though many recipes call for covering the chicken breasts with bread crumbs, I opted to marinate the chicken breasts in a balsamic vinaigrette prior to stuffing and cooking them. Doing so added an extra level of flavor and also helped to keep the meat tender and moist.
What I love most about this recipe is how versatile it is -- the options are virtually endless given the wide variety of flavor combinations you can put together using whatever fresh herbs, cheese, and fruits or vegetables you have on hand. I think my next version will stuffed with spinach, feta, and olives as a Mediterranean-inspired dish. Or maybe I'll try a dried cranberry, wild rice, and brie-stuffed chicken breast. And just imagine how the flavors could change as the seasons do! Let the creative flavor combinations begin! I am definitely going to make use of this cooking technique again.
Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts
makes two servings
2 six-ounce boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or you can use fresh mozzarella)
1. In a gallon-size plastic zippered bag, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, herbes de Provence, and oregano. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts then place them in the bag and zipper it closed. Place the bag on a plate and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
2. Remove the chicken from the fridge about 20 minutes before baking to allow it time to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.
4. Place the marinated breasts on a cutting board. Carefully cut a slit into each chicken breast horizontally (along the side) to create a pouch.
5. Stuff each pouch with the mozzarella, basil, and sun-dried tomato mixture. Use toothpicks to keep each pouch closed.
6. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray, then place the prepared chicken breasts in the dish.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Remove the chicken breasts from the oven and allow them to rest for five minutes before serving.