They key to any great Italian recipe is fresh ingredients. And any good Nana anywhere will also tell you they will substitute any ingredient if the one the recipe calls for looks terrible at the market. And I say the same goes for substituting any vegetable you may not like. For instance this particular recipe originally called for red bell peppers but they looked terrible so I went for the standard green. Red would've made the dish more colorful, but not as tasty!
So first things first, chunk up all your fresh veggies. Onion, garlic, zucchini, Roma tomatoes, celery and bell pepper. Another thing to note: Italian cooking is not like French cuisine, the less perfect the food the better it tastes! If you have a big pot that can go straight from stove-top to oven you are in luck. Put it on the stove and add your onions, garlic and olive oil cooking until golden.
Next you throw in the zucchini, celery and peppers for just a few minutes more. See how red bell peppers would've been pretty?
While that's cooking together chop up the sun-dried tomatoes. I love the flavor they add to this dish. But if you don't like sun-dried tomatoes, don't put them in!
Now it's time to add both types of tomatoes, dried oregano and balsamic vinegar. This is the one ingredient I would never substitute. After you try the vegetables soaked and cooked in balsamic you'll agree. Season very well with salt and pepper.
Now it's time for the chicken. Turn off your heat and cover the dish while you add a surprising ingredient.
This is found next to the cream cheese and also comes in other flavors. Or any kind of soft cheese would work. A garlic-y spread would even be delicious. Remember, we're cooking Italian here. You really can't go wrong. Anyway cut a pocket into the chicken breast taking care not to cut all the way through. This magical little pocket is where you add the Cooking Creme.
After you stuff the chicken with the creme add it to the top of your balsamic vegetables. Drizzle the top of the chicken with a little more evoo (extra virgin olive oil) and sprinkle on salt and paprika.
Done. Bake it in the oven for about an hour and enjoy the aroma that fills your kitchen. Make sure to have some (fresh) crusty bread to soak up the liquid. It's to die for.
Some of the creme will drip down to the vegetables while cooking which just adds to the incredible flavor.
Nana's Stuffed Chicken atop Balsamic Vegetables
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hr. 15 minutes
2 small onions, roughly chopped
5-7 garlic cloves, smashed
3 Tbl. olive oil, divided
1 pound zucchini, cut into chunks
4 celery stalks, thickly sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & chopped
1 pound Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (2 lb total)
1 package Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Italian Herb (or other flavor)
1 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a 375 degree oven.
Pour 2 Tbl spoons oil to a large pot or flameproof casserole dish and heat on med-high.
Add onions and garlic sauteing for about 5 minutes or until soft and golden. Stir frequently.
Add zucchini, celery and bell peppers. Stir and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Stir in sun-dried and Roma tomatoes, oregano and balsamic vinegar.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and set aside.
Cut a shallow pocket into the top of the chicken breast taking care not to cut through to the other side or either end of the chicken.
Stuff the chicken with the Cooking Creme dividing evenly.
Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, drizzle on remainder olive oil and sprinkle on salt and paprika.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Wondering if your garden's vegetables are ready to harvest, or when to plant them? Pick at the perfect time for the freshest ingredients! Learn all you need to know here:
What's your favorite type of food to cook? Mine? Italian =)