This is one of those recipes that you use to clean out your refrigerator! By that I mean, you could pretty much substitute in whatever herb, cheese, or greens you have lying around. I used a roasted red pepper sauce because I was fresh out of tomatoes, but had stocked up on red peppers the week before (ambitiously thinking I was going to get some canning done). You could easily swap in a tomato sauce here, or even make a pan sauce from the chicken drippings. I was also desperate to get rid of an enormous bag of spinach, so I made a spinach/walnut pesto and mixed that into the rice. Again, if basil is what you’ve got, use that!
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Fresh basil leaves
1/2 Herbed Cheese recipe
2.5 oz cream cheese, softened
1 garlic clove, minced
3 teaspoons fresh parsley, minced
3 teaspoons fresh chives, minced
A pinch of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
A pinch salt
1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Put each chicken breast half between two layers of plastic wrap, on a chopping board, and use a meat mallet to pound until 1/4-inch thick.
2 Dip each basil leaf in boiling water, drain and set aside.
3 Mix together all of the Herbed Cheese ingredients
4 Lay the chicken breasts flat, season each side with salt and pepper. Spread the cheese mixture over each breast, covering the surface of the breasts. Layer on the basil leaves. Starting at the shortest end of the chicken breast, roll up as tightly as possible and tuck in the ends to form a neat roll. Secure each breast with 2 toothpicks.
5 Transfer chicken breasts to a greased baking dish, seam side down. Bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the breast, until the internal temperature is 165°F, the juices run clear, and the chicken is slightly browned.
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Top with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (recipe below)
ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE
2 red peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons white wine
6 tablespoons chicken stock
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2 Set the peppers on a baking sheet and roast until the flesh is soft and the skin puckered, 35 to 45 minutes.
3 Remove the peppers from the oven and put them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Set aside for 10 minutes to sweat.
4 Remove the wrap, peel and seed the peppers. Cut the flesh into pieces and set aside.
5 Heat the oil in a saute pan. Add the shallot and cook until soft. Deglaze with white wine and cook 1 minute. Add the stock and the cooked red pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Cool slightly, and puree in the blender. Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and transfer to a small saucepan to reheat in a few minutes.
1 pound of spinach, trimmed and washed
3/4 cup of toasted walnuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Add spinach and 1 tablespoon water to a large skillet set over medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. In a food processor, combine spinach, walnuts, oil, and lemon zest. Process until mixture forms a smooth paste, scraping down bowl as needed. Season with salt and pepper.
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)