Our little garden is just bursting with tomatoes this time of year, and the little cherry tomatoes are so juicy and sweet and delicious and plentiful that I wanted to use them creatively in a recipe instead of the usual simple throwing of them into our dinner salad.
I also have a really healthy crop of fresh basil.
Anyone that’s been around thecreativelifeinbetween.com for more than a minute likely knows I LOVE chicken for dinner and am always looking for new, creative ways to prepare it.
So last night, I decided to try a newer, lightened-up version of the classic chicken parmesan recipe that is typically dipped in milk and egg wash, rolled in bread crumbs and fried in oil before topping it with cheese and baking it.
For this recipe, I marinaded the chicken in buttermilk – a great tip for making baked (or fried) chicken moist and tender – and then simply topped it with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of rolling it in bread crumbs.
I’ve said it before, and many of you know this well, but there really is no substitute for the real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Powdered cheese in a green plastic container will not do. Other cheeses called “Parmesan” will not do. The real deal – Parmigiano-Reggiano is worth the spend (even if you have to skimp somewhere else – like that Starbucks latte or the pricey bottle of red wine). Nothing can compare to the sharp, complex, fruity/nutty, strong savory flavor and slightly gritty texture of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Inferior versions can impart a bitter taste, so if you think you do not like “Parmesan” cheese, because you ate the powdered stuff from the green plastic container as a kid, please give the real “parmesan” a try! You won’t regret it.
I then roasted it along with lots of sweet, juicy marinated tomatoes with tons of fresh garlic and basil and healthy extra virgin olive oil.
We ate ours over whole grain thin spaghetti and a tossed fresh green salad. It was divine!
Don’t expect it to taste like the familiar fried version soaked in sauce (which is quite yummy in moderation!), but allow yourself to enjoy the fresh, lighter flavors of this wonderful winner, winner of a chicken dinner! (You knew I had to say it – right?!)
Here is my recipe, which is adapted from one I found on Epicurious. Hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how you like it.
New Lighter Chicken Parmesan
- 3 lbs boneless chicken breasts and thighs
- 1 cup buttermilk (you can easily make by adding 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk)
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely minced fresh garlic
- 1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 8 oz. fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Wash and prepare chicken. If chicken breasts are thick, cut them in half horizontally so they will cook faster and more evenly. Marinade chicken in buttermilk for a minimum of 2 hours or up to overnight in an airtight container or large Ziploc bag.
Whisk together olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt. Pour over tomatoes and stir. Let marinade a couple hours if time allows.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove chicken from buttermilk marinade and place on a baking stone or dish with sides that will fit all pieces evenly without overlapping. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pat to press into chicken. Spoon marinated tomatoes in between chicken pieces pouring remaining oil marinade over top.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes until chicken is cooked, cheese begins to brown, and tomatoes begin to bubble and brown. Add a slice of Mozzarella cheese on top of each piece of chicken, and return to oven for approximately 5 minutes until the Mozzarella is browned and bubbly.
Serve over whole wheat or regular pasta or by itself with a fresh green salad.
Cheers & Hugs,