spinach and fresh mozzarella stuffed chicken over a cheese-free walnut pesto

Not a massive stuffed chicken fan only because I can’t find that many alternations which are easy to do on a weeknight with things you may already have around the house. People like to get fancy… I’m sometimes a purist and just go with the classics: things stuffed with cheese.

The chicken came out very moist from the mozzarella. The pesto made for plenty of leftovers and was eaten again and again over pasta and in wraps… With shrimp and a tomato mozzarella salad. It stored very well in the fridge feeling less guilty since there was no cheese (yes this is a keto meal but there was enough fat in the pesto from the olive oil and the cheese in the chicken).

You Will Need:

  • Chicken Breasts (fresh or frozen – fresh to save time)
  • Spinach (we use baby spinach)
  • Fresh Mozzarella (pre-sliced – not the balls)
  • Walnuts (whole or chopped, doesn’t matter – and you can substitute for another nut other than pine nuts)
  • Olive Oil
  • Dried Basil, Salt and Pepper

I prep my station by placing parchment paper into my pan (you can use aluminum). I place a handful of spinach per chicken breast aside as well as two slices of mozzarella per chicken breast and a dish of olive oil with the basil, salt and pepper mixed in. This amount needs to be enough for the inside and outside of each breasts. This is so that after I start handling the uncooked chicken I don’t start touching other things and contaminating them.

Get either kitchen scissors or a sharp knife and cut pockets into your chicken breasts.

Pour some of your seasoned olive oil mixture into each pocket, reserving some for the end – and then rub it in with your fingers, stuffing in half of your spinach reserved per breast and one slice of the cheese. Lay each breast onto your pan and top the chicken breasts with the rest of the seasoned olive oil, spinach and rip the other slice of mozzarella on half, laying them on the top of everything.

Cook the breasts on 350 for 30 minutes. While they cook, get out your food processor and put two generous handfuls of your nuts in, two handfuls of the spinach, a tablespoon of the basil, a teaspoon of the salt (teaspoon is good for now; you can always add more) and enough oil to emulsify everything. The seasoning will be to taste so, at the end get a spoon and taste it to see if it needs more of something.

It should be creamy and nutty with this gorgeous green color.

The pesto will be served cold to room temperature so go ahead and if the chicken aren’t done, place the lid on your processor and store it in the fridge or, put it all in a storage container as, like I had said earlier, you will have leftovers…

When the chicken comes out the cheese will have melted all over and the juices trapped in the bottom of the pan will have kept everything moist.

If you aren’t yet ready to eat, keep the food in the oven on 160 degrees F while it’s still warm so it’ll stay that way without any bacteria growing. If you decide to instead store the chicken as a meal prep for a later day, they will keep in the fridge for up to three days (including the day that you initially cooked them).

When you go to plate, place two spoonfuls of the pesto down and your chicken on top. Alternatively you can set your chicken down and drizzle the pesto overtop… Either way it works.

You’ll see when you cut into them, they are perfectly cooked and layered with the spinach and mozzarella… With that extra bite of nutty flavor you realize this is a complete meal. All that’s needed is a good (bottle) glass of wine. Cheers!

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