Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Lightened Up" Chicken Parmesan

After making my homemade marinara sauce I knew I had to put it to good use.  One of my family's favorites is chicken parmesan so I decided to make that so we could all enjoy it!  When you order it out it can be pricey, but it isn't too expensive to make at home... it just takes some time.

When you order chicken parmesan out at a restaurant they use lots of oil and prepare huge portions.  When you make it at home you know exactly what you put in it and only need to serve yourself what you want to eat.  In theory, this is a healthy chicken parmesan for those reasons.

Chicken Parmesan
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 pound of pasta (wheat is more nutritious)
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of Italian-style bread crumbs*
5 cups Marinara sauce (canned or homemade)
1 pound of part-skim mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp dried Basil

Directions:
Prepare the chicken: Cut chicken breasts in half and pound them until they are about 1/2 inch thick.  (I usually wrap the chicken breast in wax paper or plastic wrap and pound it with a heavy frying pan, but a meat tenderizer works well too).  Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl and dip each chicken breast in the egg batter.  Then dredge the chicken in the bread crumbs.  Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and place the battered chicken into the pan.  Allow the chicken to cook ~5 minutes each side, so that it has a nice brown color.  Then check to see if the chicken is done cooking (thermometer should read at least 165 degrees or cut the chicken in the thickest part to see if the meat is white).
Assemble your Chicken Parmesan: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  After the chicken is done cooking, place each chicken breast on a cooking sheet or casserole dish.  Pour 1/4 cup of marinara sauce on each chicken breast.  Place 1/4 cup of cheese on top of the sauce and top with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.
Finishing touches:  Bring a large pot of water to boiling and cook pasta as instructed on the box.  Toss with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  Serve 3/4 cup of pasta topped with marinara sauce.  Place chicken breast on top of pasta and top with extra parmesan cheese.

*You can use plain bread crumbs and season them with dried herbs (Oregano, Basil, Rosemary) and garlic powder.

Nutrition Facts: (3/4 cup of pasta plus sauce and chicken breast)
~650 calories, 56 g protein, 56 g carbohydrates, 28 g fat

Added benefits: Good source of calcium!  Good source of the antioxidant Lycopene!
Lycopene is a phytochemical (naturally occurring ingredient) found in tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables that are red in color.  Lycopene may help reduce your risk for certain types of cancers and heart disease!

Enjoy with a nice side salad and a cup of red wine!
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