Now that the main holidays are over and we’re “in between years”, as we Germans call the time between Christmas and New Year’s, many of us still have a few days off work. So we can spend some time in the kitchen to prepare a nice dinner – albeit lower key than during christmas. Right? This bake makes a great in-between-years-comfort-meal. If you like chicken and a light but cheesy taste, this bake is indeed comfort food at its best.
It takes a little bit of effort to make, but that may be just the time at hand during these days – especially when the result is as delicious as these little chicken rolls full of creamy fresh cheese and healthy, garlicky spinach. And the more often you make it, the faster it gets. Believe me. I have made it many times.
In order to keep the chicken breasts juicy, generously add sea salt to them a few hours before you make this dish. This will allow the salt to evenly diffuse inside the meat over time, seasoning it from within and preserving moisture. Before seasoning, use a big knife or your hands to flatten the breasts and then cut each breast into two parts by slicing them diagonally – to make them as thin as you can. After adding salt on both sides, leave them in the fridge. Ideally, pull them out an hour before you start cooking, so the meat is at room temperature when you get started.
How to roll it up
If you know your time will be limited before cooking, you can prepare the spinach in advance, as it will be set aside to cool after sauteeing. So it is ready whenever you’ll start the mixing and rolling. Keep a few leaves for garnish – the raw leaves add a nice little crunch. If you have too much sauteed spinach for your filling, spread it around your chicken rolls before it all goes into the oven.
What are you going to serve with this chicken bake? If you like eating chicken with rice, make some cauliflower rice as a side. You may also like to add some seasonal roasted vegetables – which comes in especially handy, as you can roast them together with the chicken. Roasted brussels sprouts with red onions are great for this season. You’ll love doing this as your whole meal prepares itself while you can set the table or sit down and have a drink. Or just serve a simple green salad with cucumber slices, a few chopped walnuts and fresh herbs.
Cheesy Chicken from the oven! Thin slices of chicken breast filled with cream cheese and spinach, topped with an almond-parmesan mix, and finally baked until golden brown.
2 generous servings
2 large chicken breasts (about 350g)
175g (6 ounces) fresh spinach
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g (3.5 ounces) soft cream cheese
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Sea salt to taste
Fresh black pepper, from the mill
1 tsp dried thyme
olive oil for frying and greasing the baking pan
metal or wooden sticks to hold the rolls together
- Before starting to cook, prepare the chicken breasts. The earlier you do this, the better as the salt has more time to diffuse into the meat and season it from within. First, flatten the breasts with a big knife or your hands, then cut each breast in two parts, slicing them diagonally to make them even thinner. Season with sea salt and set aside. They’ll best be kept at room temperature during the hour before cooking.
- Wash and rinse the spinach leaves thoroughly. Set a few tender leaves aside for garnish. Put a pan to medium heat, then add olive oil and stir in the spinach leaves. Saute quickly, while adding some sea salt – until the leaves start wilting. Shove spinach to the side of the pan, creating a circle in the middle where you add the chopped garlic in a small extra drop of oil. Fry for 10 seconds or until fragrant, then mix garlic into the spinach and set the mix aside to cool and drain a bit. This whole process shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes or so.
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Squeeze remaining water out of the spinach and cut it into small pieces with a large knife. Mix with cream cheese. Spread the chicken meat onto a tray and cover them evenly with the spinach-cheese mix. Generously sprinkle with black pepper from the mill and season more to taste if needed. Now comes the tricky part: Roll the meat up loosely and fix with a metal or wooden stick. Your chicken rolls don’t have to be tightly wrapped up, rather try to squeeze out as little of the filling as possible. Put chicken rolls into a baking tray, greased a little with olive oil. Place remaining sauteed spinach between the rolls if you have some left.
- Whip the egg in one bowl and mix ground almond with parmesan and thyme in another. Spread egg onto the chicken rolls and then cover them with the almond parmesan mix – a bit like batter.
- Bake chicken rolls for 25 minutes – and then boost the temprature to 200 degrees C/390 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for an additional 5 minutes at the higher heat for browning.
Do your kids eat spinach? My boys don’t so I roll up their chicken breasts with just seasoned cream cheese inside and serve them cucumber and carrot sticks on the side.
- Category: meal
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: European
- Serving Size: generous
- Calories: 712
- Fat: 50.1g
- Carbohydrates: 7.5g net carbs
- Protein: 55.9g