Friday, May 10, 2013

Basil, Mozzarella & Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken

Every spring I go a little bit plant-crazy. It always starts with an innocent trip to somewhere like Lowe's or Home Depot, usually for something like a grill cover, and ends with me hauling a crapload of tiny herb and vegetable plants home. 

I can't resist them. Usually all I can find are Bonnie plants, which are from right here in Alabama. About a month ago, Home Depot had a sale where all of their vegetable plants were 5/$10. After hitting up the Birmingham Botanical Gardens' Spring Sale that same weekend, I ended up with two heirloom tomato plants, FIVE pepper plants, foxtail rosemary, sweet mint, Mexican oregano, thyme and a TON (ok, 6 individual plants) of sweet basil. 

The basil is growing like kudzu. It's everywhere. I've added it to my chicken parmesan, made mini insalata caprese at least 3 times, and even decided to make some basil-infused olive oil. Then, I decided to use it in stuffed chicken...

This recipe is SUPER easy - simply stuff butterflied chicken breasts with roasted red peppers, mozzarella and basil. Bake, top with cheese, and enjoy!

Also, sorry, but it REALLY doesn't photograph well. You'll just have to trust me - it's GOOD.

Basil, Mozzarella & Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken
adapted from Barbells and Bellinis

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, divided
1 12oz jar of roasted red peppers, sliced into 1" strips
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 8oz ball of mozzarella, sliced into 8 slices
1/4 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano

To butterfly the chicken breasts, slice into the long side of the breast, stopping about 1/4" away from the opposite side - basically you want to cut ALMOST all the way through. 

Season the "inside" of the breasts with 1/2 of the Italian seasoning and salt & pepper. 

Place some roasted red pepper strips, fresh basil leaves and a slice of mozzarella on the bottom side of a chicken breast. Fold the chicken "closed", tucking in the filling as much as possible.

Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts and place in a greased 13x9" casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Italian seasoning. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 400° or until the chicken is no longer pink and reaches an internal temperature of 160°. 

Remove the chicken from the oven and turn on the broiler. Top the chicken with the remaining 4 mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with the Parmigiana Reggiano. 

Broil until the cheese is melted, bubbly and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Serve.