Here is another quick and light weeknight chicken meal: chicken breasts stuffed with pimentos/olives, cheese and bacon.
The original recipe, which I modified a bit, calls for just pimentos. However, I had never bought "just pimentos" before, and didn't have a clue where the supermarket by my house was hiding them. I looked by the olives, which seemed logical, and also by the jars of roasted red peppers, garlic, sundried tomatoes, etc etc and no dice. So I bought a jar of sliced Spanish olives with pimentos (I think this is called "olive salad" sometimes), and this is why there are olives in my pictures. I have since discovered that jars of just pimentos were hiding in the Spanish food aisle, which was probably the only aisle I didn't go down for some reason. I think the recipe was very yummy with the olive/pimento mix, although the taste of olives was strong...and salty. If you don't particularly like green olives, I'd recommend using pimentos only.
Oh, and it goes without saying that my recipe list has all light ingredients, but you can certainly substitute full-fat counterparts as you see fit!
Combine the bacon, onion, pimentos and/or olives, mayo, lemon juice, hot sauce, and the shredded cheese (if you are using shredded), and set aside.
A few points about this step:
- I always cook my turkey bacon in the microwave to save time. Directions are usually on the package, but I always cook them on high for about 3 minutes on paper towels. Give them a minute or two to cool, and they will get crisp and easy to crumble!
- Instead of using shredded cheese and mixing it into the filling, I used what I had on hand, which was presliced fat-free cheddar (Borden). This worked fine as well, so if you already have sliced cheese, don't think you need to run out and grab shredded too. You'll just add the cheese at a later step.
Then, decide whether you want your breasts coated with bread crumbs, which is totally up to you. If you decide yes, you can use preseasoned breadcrumbs, or season your own with some Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder. This step is optional. If you are stuffing the breast, dredge the whole thing in flour, egg and then bread crumbs. If you are folding thin breasts over the filling, like what I did, you can just dredge one side, and have that be the outside that touches the pan.
Now it is time for assembly. If you are using a full-sized breast half, slice into it, creating a pocket, and stuff the filling in (stuff sliced cheese in there too if you are using it). Secure with a toothpick.
If you are using the really thin breasts, lay the cheese slice (if you are using it) on what will be the interior side, then place the filling on top of the cheese, and fold the breast over, securing with one or a few toothpicks.
Now, saute over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side, adding additional spray as needed. If you have the thin breasts folded over, they should be fully cooked at this point. The thick breast will have to be finished in the oven for about 12 minutes.
Olive and Pimento-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- 2 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 3/4 cup shredded part-skim or fat-free cheddar cheese (or 1-2 slices per breast)
- 2 tablespoons minced green onions
- 1 1/2 tablespoons diced pimientos
- 1 tablespoon canola mayonnaise or light mayo
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce ** or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or the thinly sliced chicken breasts that I used)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Cooking spray (olive oil)
- Seasoned bread crumbs (optional)
- Flour and egg for dredging breasts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Cook bacon, either in a large ovenproof skillet, or in microwave until crisp. Crumble.
- Combine bacon, next 6 ingredients, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Cut a 1-inch-wide slit into the thick end of each breast half; carefully cut down to the center of chicken to form a deep pocket. Divide filling mixture evenly among pockets. Secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. OR follow directions for thin breasts, and fold breast over the filling
- Heat pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan. Add chicken to pan; saute 4 minutes. Turn chicken over and repeat.
- If using thin breasts, they are probably cooked through at this point. If you have thick breasts, bake at 350° for 12 minutes; let stand for 5 minutes.