Friday, February 28, 2014

Chicken Parmesan with Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

 Last Year's Post:  Orange-Pecan Salmon with Three Pea Salad
Two Years Ago:    Perfect Lasagna

You can probably already tell this is not your typical chicken parmesan.   When I tell you that the recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine and has fewer calories, fat grams and sodium than regular chicken parm you may be tempted to quit reading because it can't be any good, right?......but that would be a big mistake.  Because you're right, this isn't your normal chicken parmesan, it's way better.

The chicken is tender and moist, with a crunchy coating of panko crumbs, parmesan and garlic.  The sauce is filled with the bright fresh sweetness of roasted tomatoes, shallot and more garlic.  The whole thing is topped with melted creamy mozzarella and fresh basil, served alongside hot spaghetti.  The flavors are much brighter and fresher than normal chicken parmesan, and the contrast of textures from crunchy to juicy to creamy is particularly appealing.

There are a couple of secrets to making it healthier.  The first is to use chicken cutlets rather than a whole chicken breast.  The chicken cutlets are smaller but still completely satisfying and filling.  It's easy to make your own cutlets by cutting a chicken breast in half horizontally.

The next secret is to use a light mayo and parmesan coating on the chicken prior to dredging in toasted panko crumbs and oven-roasting the chicken, which keeps the chicken moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside without the fat and calories of frying.

The final secret is the oven-roasted tomato sauce, which has fewer calories and sodium than marinara sauce and actually tastes much better.  You can make it any time of the year with regular cherry tomatoes from the grocery store - they taste fabulous after being oven-roasted to bring out their flavor and sweetness.

This recipe looked so pretty I just had to try it.  I was so impressed by the flavor that I kept telling The Lawyer "I just can't believe how good this is" the entire time we were eating.  I think you'll be impressed too.

printable recipe
Chicken Parmesan with Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Serves 4

1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 shallot, sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup panko bread crumbs
2 (8 oz) boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1.5 oz Parmesan cheese, grated and divided (about 6 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, very thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
Hot cooked spaghetti

Special equipment:  wire rack

Preheat oven to 375d.

Combine tomatoes and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl; toss.  Arrange tomato mixture in a single layer on a large shallow broiler pan; bake at 375d for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 425d.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add shallot; cook five minutes.  Add garlic; cook one minute.  Add tomatoes, stock, wine, thyme, salt and pepper; cook 4 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.   Set aside.

Place panko crumbs in a large skillet; cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently.  Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally to form 4 cutlets.  Combine mayonnaise and half of Parmesan in a small bowl.  Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over both sides of cutlets.

Combine panko, garlic powder, and remaining half of Parmesan in a shallow bowl or plate, and dredge cutlets in the panko mixture.  Place cutlets on a wire rack coated with cooking spray.  Place rack on a baking sheet.  Bake at 425d for 15 minutes.

Top each cutlet with 2 tablespoons tomato mixture; top tomato mixture evenly with mozzarella cheese.  Broil 3 minutes (watching closely) until cheese is bubbly.  Sprinkle with basil and serve with remaining tomato mixture and hot cooked spaghetti.

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