As many of our favorite recipes have happened, this recipe came about when my mom had a hankering for Chicken Parmesan, but had no eggs or cutlets on hand. She did have some thick chicken breasts thawed, but in a rush, no time to pound them thin like cutlets, her usual cut of choice for her go-to Chicken Parmesan recipe. Eyeballing the ingredients she did have in her pantry and refrigerator, she came up with a recipe for this festive Red, Green, and White Pesto Parmesan Chicken, which has now become her go-to. Instead of dipped in eggs, the chicken is coated in bright green pesto and rolled in a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan.
The final dish, cut open reveals the green inner layer, a white melty layer of mozzarella and deep red marinara sauce on top–a festive and unexpected holiday meal. Serve it on a bed of angel hair pasta tossed in pesto and you’ll impress all of your guests. Just don’t tell them how easy it was!
And if you’re off the hook for serving a holiday meal this year, save this recipe for a quick 30 minute after-school dinner.
Pesto Parmesan Chicken
Serves 2 people (with big appetites)
2 large boneless chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper (to taste, to sprinkle lightly on chicken)
2 cups marinara sauce (your favorite bottled brand or homemade)
¼ cup fresh or grated mozzarella
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. butter
1/2 cup Pesto
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Heat Oven to 400 degrees
Heat the marina in a saucepan until hot.
Put olive oil and butter in a large oven proof skillet and heat to medium high.
Rinse and pat boneless chicken breasts dry. Sprinkle both sides lightly with salt and pepper. Put pesto in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl mix Panko and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Lay chicken breasts, one at a time, into pesto first, coating both sides of breast and edges thoroughly, and then in Panko-Parm mixture, coating both sides and edges of breasts thoroughly again.
Saute the breasts on both sides until the coating is crispy and golden. You may have to add a little more oil depending on size of breasts and your pan. (Drain off excess oil, if there is a lot of it, before putting in oven.)
Then put the entire skillet into the oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and ladle each breast with ¼ cup marinara, 2 tablespoons mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and chicken breast is cooked but not overly so. (A meat thermometer is helpful here, but if you don’t have one, just cut through the middle of one of the breasts to check for doneness.)
Before serving, ladle each breast with more marinara and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese. This dish is excellent served with a side of angel hair pasta that has been tossed in a little pesto.
Variation: Use thinner chicken breasts or pound smaller chicken breasts thin. Put sauce and cheese on immediately after pan frying, and cook in oven only until cheese melts.
For more step-by-step pictures and a vegetarian version, visit Becky’s original post at her and Rachel’s blog, LaughCryCook.com.
Rachel Randolph is a mom to a busy toddler boy and a wife to an even busier high school football and baseball coach. She is co-author ofWe Laugh, We Cry, We Cook, a food memoir written with her mom, and their upcoming book Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night’s Sleep(Zondervan, January 2015). She also blogs at www.TheNourishedMama.com and www.laughcrycook.com.