Homemade Spinach & Pepperjack Cheese stuffed Chicken breasts wrapped in Parma Ham
I have been an eggetarian almost all my life. But while doing post-graduation, one of my closest friends introduced (read forced ;)) me to try chicken. The first dish that I tried was Chilli Chicken and it still is my favorite. After that, for a very long time, I only used to eat very few chicken dishes, all of them made with boneless chicken. It was only when I got married that I started eating chicken in all forms. As I have mentioned in one of my earlier posts, my husband is an amazing cook and one of his specialties is cooking chicken. Still, I was not very comfortable in trying out any chicken dishes which were not Indian (spicy) but my brother slowly introduced me to milder, subtle flavored chicken and I must say I have come to love them too! So, here is one such recipe made with chicken breasts, which is very simple to make and super delicious 🙂
- Fresh Spinach Leaves – 150 grams
- Sour Cream – 1/4 cup
- Shredded Pepperjack Cheese – 1/4 cup (you can also use Monterey Jack Cheese)
- Garlic, minced – 4 cloves
- Red Chillies – 2 (deseeded if don’t want to make it hot)
- Skinless, boneless Chicken Breast Halves – 2
- Black Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt – To taste
- Parma Ham (optional) – 6 slices
- Preheat the oven to 392 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Blanch the spinach by adding it to a boiling water followed by plunging it into chilled water. Alternatively, you can heat it in microwave for 3 minutes or until wilted.
- Chop the blanched/wilted spinach roughly and make sure you have drained all of its water. Transfer it into a bowl.
- Add sour cream, garlic, chillies and pepperjack cheese. Mix well until it has formed a smooth texture.
- Lay the chicken breasts out on a clean surface, and make a slit down the side of each of the breasts to either form a pocket or to open a flap like I did (see figure 1 from the image above).
- Spoon some of the spinach mixture inside each pocket or on the thicker side and close the flap. Refer to image 1.
- Now, wrap the breasts with parma ham slices and secure the assembly with toothpicks. Wrapping with parma ham is, of course, optional so if you do not want to use the ham, simply secure the breasts with toothpicks. Arrange the prepared breasts in a shallow cooking dish, as shown in figure 2.
- Bake it for 25 minutes at 200 degrees C and your dish is ready.
- You can have it with rice or boiled veggies. I usually like my chicken with stir fried veggies and herbed couscous.
I would love to know your experience and would love to hear about any other inventive accompaniments to go with the chicken 🙂
Baked Vegetable or Veg Au Gratin
Indore (a city in Central India and my hometown) is a food heaven. If you are an India-based foodie, Indore is a must-visit place for you, if only for its food. It has been more than a decade that I have left Indore but I always dream of visiting my hometown, especially since I now want to take my husband who will surely love the trip. Indore has a street called Chappan Dukaan (which literally translates to 56 Shops) and all these are food shops. You name it and you will find it here. Well, the reason that I am talking about Indore, and especially Chappan Dukaan, is because this is the place where I tasted the heavenly Baked Veggies (later on I got to know that it is also called Veg au Gratin). I vividly remember that my Dad’s office was near this place and I often used to ask him to get this dish as a take away only for me.
I tried Veg au Gratin in many other places after leaving Indore but nothing matched the taste. So I thought that why don’t I give it a try. The recipe is largely from my memory of the dish I used to love in Indore. For white sauce, I have adapted Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe that you can find here.
Ingredients for the White Sauce
- Onion, small or medium sized – 1
- Cloves – 4
- Bay Leaves – 2 or 3 (depending on the size of onion and the size of bay leaves)
- Milk – 2 1/2 cups
- Butter – 2 tablespoons
- Fine Flour – 2 tablespoons
- Salt and White Pepper – To taste
Ingredients for the baked vegetables
- Chopped french beans – 1 cup
- Chopped carrots – 1/2 cup
- Green peas – 1/2 cup
- Fresh Pineapple – 1 cup
- Chopped cauliflower – 1/2 cup
- Baby corn (optional) – 1 cup
- Salt – To taste
- Sugar – 1/4 teaspoon
- Grated cheddar cheese – To cover the dish
- Baking Tray
Steps for making White Sauce:
- Peel the onion and wrap it with bay leaves using cloves to pin the leaves onto the onion. This is called Onion Cloute.
- Heat the milk in a pan and add the prepared Onion Cloute to it.
- Bring it to a boil then turn off the heat. Drain the milk in a bowl and keep aside to cool.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the prepared milk to get a smooth sauce.
- Simmer gently till it starts to thicken and season with salt and white pepper.
Steps for making Baked Veggies:
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
- Cook the veggies (except pineapple) half-way through in water with salt and sugar on a high heat or in the microwave. Drain the vegetables and allow it to cool for sometime.
- Add the pineapples in the drained vegetable and put all the vegetables in a baking dish.
- Pour the white sauce over it. Make sure that the vegetables are totally immersed in white sauce.
- Bake it for 10-15 minutes.
- Take it out and cover it with the grated cheese and bake until the cheese melts and serve hot 🙂
In terms of veggies, you can add/remove as per your taste. But, do keep the pineapple as it adds a lot of flavor 🙂
I hope you enjoyed making and eating my version of Baked Veggies 🙂
I would love to know your experience 🙂
Homemade Ravioli with Ricotta and Spinach Filling, Served with Tuscan Tomato Sauce
They say, the thing you hate the most turns out to be the thing that you tend to fall in love with. And I relate to this so much because I used to have a strong feeling of dislike towards Italian food. My husband, who loves Italian food, slowly introduced me to Italian cuisine during our courtship and since then, Italian has become *the* most favorite cuisine. The first (and now favorite) dish that I fell in love with was “Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli”. So one day, I was on a mission to make homemade ravioli with my favorite filling along with Tomato Sauce. So, here goes the recipe 🙂
Fresh Egg Pasta: Makes enough for about 4 to 6 servings
- Regular flour (or 00 flour if you can get it) – 2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling the pasta
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Large eggs – 3
- Olive Oil – 1/4 cup or 50 ml
- Baking Sheet
- Put flour into a bowl; make a well in the centre add the eggs and salt.
- Mix together with your hands, keep kneading until it all comes together.
- Drizzle some quality olive oil into the dough and knead it through.
- Wrap the dough with cling-film and put into the fridge to rest, for about 20 minutes. Note: At this point, the pasta dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Let it come back to room temperature before rolling.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet generously with flour and scrape the ball of dough on top. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Dust the portions with flour and cover with a clean dishtowel. Note: The name of the game at this point is to keep everything well-floured to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself or the roller as you work. If the dough starts to feel sticky as you roll it, sprinkle it with flour. Also sprinkle flour on any pasta you’re not working (rolled, cut or otherwise) with and keep it covered with a dishtowel.
- Roll as thin as possible, lifting and moving the dough constantly to make sure it doesn’t stick. Sprinkle the dough generously with flour and then gently roll it up.
- Thinner the rolled out pasta, better the ravioli. Also the rolled out pasta needs to be uniform in thickness.
- With a cookie cutter or upside-down water-glass or a small upside down steel bowl, cut out circles (or any shape you prefer) from the rolled out pasta.
- Ricotta – 250gms
- Spinach, wilted, really well-drained – 1 bag
- Nutmeg – 1/2 tsp
- Pecorino, grated – 20gms
- Basil Leaves – 3-5 leaves
- Salt – to taste
- Parmesan, grated – 1 tbsp
- Chop the wilted spinach roughly, add the ricotta, and grate in some nutmeg to flavor.
- Add some finely torn basil leaves through, 3 -5 leaves (optional).
- Finally add the grated pecorino and mix it lightly.
- Try to keep the texture of this mixture a little rough and crumbly. Preferably avoid over-mixing it into a smooth paste
Tuscan Tomato Sauce
- Garlic, chopped very finely – 4-5 cloves
- Tinned cherry tomatoes – 1 tin
- Basil Leaves – 8-10 (you can change the quantity as per your taste)
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Chilli flakes – 1 tbsp (you can change the quantity as per your taste)
- Salt – to taste
- Heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add chopped garlic, basil and a little salt. Cook gently to let all the flavors merge.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and gently cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Finally sprinkle lightly with some chilli.
Making the Ravioli:
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add salt (do not add oil to the boiling water as you may have heard/read somewhere) keep the water at a rolling boil as you make the ravioli.
- With a teaspoon, take a spoon of the mixture and place it just off the center of the pasta discs/any shape which you have made earlier.
- Brush the edges of the pasta discs with water and fold it over. Press out any little air bubbles. Repeat this process for all your pasta discs. Dust the finished ravioli with flour to keep them from sticking together.
- Place the ravioli gently into the boiling water.
- The ravioli will only take a couple of minutes to cook.
- Take the cooked ravioli out of the water put on a plate drizzle with olive oil and grate a little pecorino cheese over.
To Serve: Spoon a little tomato sauce over the dressed ravioli and serve immediately with garnish of grated Parmesan and a Basil Leaf.
Phew! I know it is a lot of work but believe me, it is so delicious and the pride you feel on making pasta from scratch makes it worthwhile. Enjoy it with a glass of red wine 🙂
Your feedback is welcome 🙂