Not to be a total V-day buzz kill, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the holiday. Truth be told, my all-time favorite Valentines Day to date was when I was single and in college. One of my best girlfriends and I visited a few local wine bars and ended the night in a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint. The only chocolate the night consisted of was a handful of mini Snickers bars we snagged from a bowl at the register. We had an absolute blast. Plus, what kind of love is more genuine than that shared between two best friends? 🙂These days I prefer staying in, preparing a beautiful meal, enjoying a
glass bottle of good red wine and just enjoying each others company. Anyone else with me on this?? It’s a much more personal experience and I like to think I put a lot of love into my cooking. Plus, like “they” always say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach 😉
This chicken was the perfect dose of fancy, yet relatively simple and inexpensive to prepare. If your significant other is partial to red meat but it’s either not your thing or you’d rather keep it lighter and less pricey, this may be the perfect V-Day meal for you to share.
Not to mention this PESTO! Oh my gosh. As soon as I made it I started thinking of all the possible things I could spread it on. If you’ve never tried making pesto as home, it’s actually pretty easy. Just throw the necessary ingredients into a food processor and voila! One batch normally lasts 1-2 weeks in my house. I spread it on sandwiches and paninis, use it as a sauce for pasta or spaghetti squash and even top my omelets with it. So delicious!
This pesto is also a little lighter and packed with more nutrients than most. Only 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, a generous amount of fresh spinach and no cheese. With that said, feel free to be very liberal with portions 😉
So, if you’re looking to prepare a romantic dinner in for that special someone (even if that special someone is you!), this recipe is dynamite. No better expression of love than with food!
Mushroom and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken with Pistachio Pepita Pesto
Makes 4 stuffed chicken breasts with extra pesto leftover
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~1.5-2 lbs total)
- 1 8-ounce container of sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 2 tsbp extra virgin olive oil for cooking
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup fresh basil (or 4 cups fresh spinach and 2 tbsp basil paste)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup of equal parts pistachios and pepitas (could use 1/4 cup of either one or the other, or mixed)
- Dash of salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 13×9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Place all pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fully incorporated and smooth. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until tender, ~5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.
- Rinse chicken breasts and place on a cutting board. Butterfly chicken breasts by pressing your hand on the top of the breast and with a sweeping slicing motion begin to cut into the middle of the breast. Do not slice all the way through.
- Open up the chicken breast like a book and spoon 1/4 of ricotta and mushroom mixture on the bottom layer of chicken. Close chicken breast by folding the top layer of chicken breast over mixture. Season the outside of the chicken breast with salt and pepper and delicately place chicken breasts in baking dish.
- Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until juices run clear when sliced. Top chicken breasts with pesto and serve immediately.
Nutrition facts per serving (1 stuffed chicken breast with 2 tbsp pesto)
Calories: 430; Total Fat: 24 gm; Saturated Fat: 3.8 gm; Cholesterol: 108 mg; Sodium: 300 mg; Carbohydrates: 8 gm; Fiber: 2.2 gm; Sugar: 3 gm; Protein: 46 gm