South Beach Diet Recipe: Phase 1

11 Jan

Baked Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Cheese

Okay so I should have taken a picture of my husband’s face when he took his first bite of the meal rather than the chicken to help you decide to make this.  It was unbelieveable.  Probably one of the best meals I have ever made–resturant worthy.  And once again I have this lovely blog to thank for my healthy meals. Not oh I can be a chef resturant worthy more like we could have paid 24 dollars at a fancy resturant for this meal worthy.  If you even slightly like pesto you will LOVE this meal.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Seriously I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. wow.  (pat myself on the back).  It didn’t even taste like a “diet” meal and it was yum-o! So although this is one for all phases it should be more of a special treat rather than a weekly meal.  It has a higher fat content than other recipes (yet still in the range of phase 1).  It is a wonderful recipe that should not be skipped over.  Go down to the tips section to find out how to make it less of a “fatty” meal! Bon Apetite!

::Ingredients::

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (use the biggest ones you can find)
1 cup purchased or homemade pesto
1 cup packed finely grated white cheese such as mozzarella or Monterey Jack
1/3 cup low fat sour cream (do not use fat free)
about 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1-2 tsp. Flour (optional)

::Directions::

Preheat oven to 375.

In bowl, combine pesto, grated white cheese and sour cream until well combined.

In a flat bowl put the 1 cup grated parmesan. Spray 9X13 casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness, or as thin as you can get it, the thinner the better.


As each piece of chicken is flattened, turn chicken over to “ragged side” and spread 1/6 of pesto cheese mixture evenly over that side of chicken (use a rubber scraper to do this).

Then roll up each piece end to end, starting with the widest end, rolling as tightly as you can.

I found these held together well and did not need a toothpick.  (I used a toothpick for each one and it worked like a charm)

Tuck in any loose pieces, and they will stay that way when it cooks.

Put each stuffed piece of chicken in the bowl with the Parmesan cheese, and press Parmesan into the surface of the chicken so it is well coated.

Put chicken into casserole dish. (You want to arrange the chicken pieces in a row, with the pieces almost touching on the sides.)

After all chicken pieces are in casserole pour in enough chicken stock to barely cover the bottom of the dish (less than 1/2 cup) and cover casserole tightly with foil.

 Bake chicken for 30 minutes, then take out of oven and remove foil (The Parmesan will be melty looking, but don’t worry, you’re going to brown it.)

Increase oven to 425, put chicken back in oven and bake 15-20 minutes more, until the top of chicken is slightly browned. (I kept chicken in the oven while it heated up to 425 and kept it in for 20 minutes)

Don’t overcook, but be sure chicken is firm to touch.

When you take the chicken out of the oven you’ll have a delicious looking combination of stock, bits of pesto, melted cheese and chicken juice in the bottom of the dish. You can serve this over the chicken just like it is and it will taste fabulously!  

::Sauce::

If you want to make a sauce out of what is left in the casserole dish here is a how! (I did not make a sauce)
Skim off as much fat as you can from top of the mixture, then pour it into small saucepan and add rest of the cup of chicken stock that you did not use. Bring to simmer for 10 minutes or so, until sauce is slightly reduced and cheese is well melted. Mix flour (depending on how much liquid you have but I used 2 tsp.) with small amount of cold water, then whisk it into sauce and cook until sauce thickens slightly. Pour around chicken and serve.

::Tips::

Okay so to make it a less fatty I used fat free sour cream (it says no but it tasted amazing).  Also when pesto is cold or thawing out from being frozen the oil rises to the top and you can scoop out the oil prior to making the mixture.  Not making the sauce is a great way to lower the fat and not putting the left over at the bottom of the casserole over the chicken will help too.  I didn’t have a pounder (thought I bought one!) and so I had to use my crazy intense potato masher and it did the trick.  Also having the chicken completely thawed out helps out the thinning the chicken because half of my chicken was completely defrosted and the other not so much and it seriously took me forever for the second half.  (put oh so worth it when the chicken and cheese and pesto melts in your mouth!)

Also, the pesto and cheese on top of the chicken was the left over the mixture.  There is not a hole in the middle of the chicken that makes it spurt out.  False advertising on the picture.  So if you have no mixture on the top at the end of baking it didn’t go all wrong. haha.

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