Last week I was having a few friends over for dinner. I asked my boyfriend what I should make. I don’t know why I did it. I knew what he was going to say. Chicken and pasta. He always says chicken and pasta. I’m not saying he should have suggested I make lobster or beef wellington, but come on, I think we can get a little more interesting than chicken and pasta. But, because I didn’t want to completely disregard his request, I made some not so ordinary chicken with some tasty grilled vegetables with a crispy panko topping. And are those mustard roasted cool potatoes I see? Oh yes, they are.
The vegetables were pretty straight forward grilled veggies. I did zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, and portabellas. Eggplant would have been great too. The topping was quick and easy too. Just some sauteed garlic, red pepper flakes, and panko bread crumbs. This topping is what takes these grilled veggies to the guest worthy level.
I have to admit I wasn’t following a recipe for this chicken. What a wonderful accident. I mixed some sauteed spinach with good crumbled feta cheese. Bone in, skin on breasts will keep this chicken super moist. No one likes dry chicken. Cut a slit down one side and stuff with your feta mixture. Also made a mixture of oregano, thyme, lemon, red wine vinegar, garlic, and oil to rub under the skin and on the top of the chicken.
Top the grilled vegetables with the panko topping for a little crunch. Or leave it on the side if you have any real carbophobes in your mix.
This meal was the perfect balance to please the mundane chicken lover (you know who you are) and those of us looking for, well, flavor.
Nutritional highlights: When people are having guests over, they want to impress. Unfortunately, many of the most impressive recipes are heavy on one magical ingredient…butter. You can still make healthy and impressive meals. This one has lean protein, a little bit of diary, and plenty of vegetables. Dinner friends doesn’t have to ruin your whole week. It can be deceptively healthy and surprisingly tasty like this meal!
Spinach-Feta Stuffed Chicken
- 4 bone in skin on chicken breasts (excess fat/skin trimmed so there’s just a little skin left on the top)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped and sauteed until wilted
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix the feta and cooled spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cut slits down the side of each chicken breast. Stuff a few tablespoons of the mixture into the chicken so it’s full but not busting out.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients. Pour/rub mixture underneath the skin and all over the chicken breasts.
3. Roast chicken at 375 for about 30-35 minutes. Please do not over cook.
Spanish Style Grilled Vegetables
adapted from Bon Apetit (note: I halved the recipe for 4 people)
On the grill
- 3 large red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, seeded, quartered
- 4 large Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 3 slices
- 4 medium green or yellow zucchini (preferably 2 of each; about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
- (I replaced the eggplant with portabella mushrooms)
- Extra-virgin olive oil (for grilling)
For the dish
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*
- 2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Arrange vegetables on baking sheets. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill peppers, skin side down and without turning, until blackened and blistered, moving occasionally for even cooking, about 10 minutes. Enclose in plastic bag. Let stand until skins loosen, about 30 minutes. Grill eggplants and zucchini until charred and tender, turning and rearranging for even browning, 5 to 6 minutes. Place on foillined baking sheet. Peel peppers. Transfer to sheet with eggplants and zucchini.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs; stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Season breadcrumb picada to taste with salt; scrape into small bowl.
Place vinegar in another small bowl; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Mix in parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt.