Monday, June 7, 2010

Mediterranean Chicken Florentine

I found this in America's Test Kitchen's, Light and Healthy 2010 magazine, however, it is a combination of two different recipes that caught my eye. One was Mediterranean Chicken with feta, and sauteed tomatoes, the other was Chicken Florentine with a cream sauce, garlic and spinach - so I combined the two and created my own variation with the elements of each recipe that I liked.

Grocery List:
Non-stick spray (Pam works for me!)
2 Chicken Breasts (or however many you need)
Olive Oil
1 bag of baby spinach (for 2 chicken breasts, add more as needed. I've used fresh spinach and frozen spinach - both work great, tonight I tried the fresh spinach approach)
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of lemon zest (again, I use the spice jar version, don't zest my own lemon peel)
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
6-8 cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
Feta cheese (or Parmesan cheese)

Additional Needs:
Oven-safe glass baking dish
Large skillet(s)
Small sauce pan
Cutting board and sharp knife - or food processor

First let's heat the oven to 425 degrees and spray your oven-safe pan.

Chop your garlic cloves and shallot into small, minced bits. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add 1/2 of the garlic and 1/2 of the shallot at this time, stirring until fragrant. Add the spinach, one handful at a time to the garlic and shallot, stirring frequently until wilted - about 5-7 minutes for each handful. As each amount of spinach has finished cooking, transfer the spinach to a colander, set over a bowl and press down with a spatula to help release any excess liquid. Spinach naturally releases a lot of moisture as it cooks, so to prevent this from being too watery, it is important to drain as much of the moisture at this time.

Grab a new skillet, or clean out the previous one for this next step.

Heat the remaining two teaspoons of oil in the skillet and carefully lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook until lightly browned on both sides, flipping them half-way through. Once browned, transfer the chicken to the oven-safe dish, then cover evenly with the spinach you've set aside.

In the sauce pan, add a dash of olive oil, then the remaining garlic and shallot and cook over medium heat until fragrant. Stir in the flour until incorporated, then whisk in the broth and the heavy cream. Next, add the lemon juice and lemon zest, bring sauce to a boil then let cool.

Take the cutting board and chop your cherry tomatoes into halves, then take your skillet, add a dash of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar on medium heat. Put the tomato halves in the skillet and let them saute on the stove, flipping around in the oil and balsamic vinegar for about 10 - 12 minutes.

Use a spoon or ladle to apply the sauce onto the spinach and chicken. The first time to make the recipe, I added all of the sauce but found it was too much - as mentioned before, the spinach adds plenty of moisture as it cooks, combined with all of the cream sauce and the olive oil you've cooked with, it was just a little watery. So now, I apply a few spoonfuls to the top, covering the spinach and setting in the flavor, then let it accumulate just a little in the glass dish surrounding the chicken breasts.

Last, add your balsamic tomatoes on top of the spinach and sprinkle your desired amount of feta, or Parmesan cheese. I thought I had feta in my fridge but came to find that I didn't, so I used Parmesan instead, as the original Florentine recipe called for. If you like the more robust taste of feta, I highly recommend it to make it more of the Mediterranean taste, although Parmesan was a fine addition.

Put the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes - the spinach, tomatoes and cheese may look a bit browned when done. Cut into the chicken to make sure there is no more pink in the middle. Once the chicken is cooked all the way through, you are ready to serve!

Calorie count per serving is 370.

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