Tag Archives: parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

Bonjour, my friends!

As I was saying yesterday, this recipe hung out on the Tasty Kitchen sidebar for weeks and weeks, and by virtue of seeing it there every time I logged onto the site, it finally became a necessity to make. Like an itch I finally just had to scratch.

Does food photography every do that to you–tickle your imagination mercilessly? Force your hand, so to speak?

Anyway, it’s so good–and I highly recommend that you make your own tomato sauce to go with it. The sauce is such a central flavor to the dish that you really should have the best of the best. With just a light breading (no eggs and flour–just straight up crumbs and herbs), this is pretty darn healthy! Well, maybe except for the piles of melted cheese . . . but I wouldn’t give those up for anything!

If I ever became lactose intolerant, that would be a huge problem. Huge.

Knock on wood.

Anyway, the recipe serves 2, but it could so, so easily be doubled. Or tripled. Or zillionupled, if your baking dish is big enough.


(Serves 2)

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (halved)
1 TBS dried oregano
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
2 TBS olive oil
2 cups good-quality (or homemade!) tomato sauce
2 TBS grated Parmesan
4 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Fresh basil, to garnish

See that lovely container of homemade tomato sauce lurking in the background? Oh man. How I love that stuff.

Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Also, I didn’t have dried basil . . . or at least I couldn’t find it. So I minced up some fresh stuff:

And I didn’t regret it for a single second. Or nanosecond. Or tetramegananonanonanosecond.

Mix the herbs, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs together in a shallow dish.

Oui, like dees.

Cut the chicken breast in half (with the knife running parallel to the cutting board) . . .

. . . and sprinkle all sides with a little salt and pepper.

Thinly slice the mozzarella.

And grate the Parmesan.

Now! Drag the chicken breast halves through the breadcrumb mixture, and gently shake off any excess.

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized oven-proof skillet (I used my lil’ 8’’). When hot, add the chicken and cook about 3 minutes per side, until browned.

Turn off the stove and take the skillet off the heat. Spoon the tomato sauce on and around the chicken.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over each chicken breast, and top each one with the thinly sliced mozzarella.

It’s looking good enough to eat now . . . but patience, my dear prudent one.

Cover the skillet with aluminum foil . . .

. . . and bake it for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5, until the cheese is melted and the chicken cooked through.

You can use this time to set the table.

Have I mentioned that I finally bought a table cloth? And that it took me 6 years of marriage and owning a battered hand-me-down table to realize that covering it with cloth would greatly improve its looks?

I need a decorator to come and tell me about all the mistakes I’m making now, before 6 more years go by and I realize that I’ve been living in folly, error, and general oblivion.

And here it comes . . .

Oh look! There are my feet!

Garnish with basil, and serve with pasta!

These little shells tossed with Parmesan, black pepper, some heavy cream, and some frozen peas were the perfect accompaniment.

And let me tell you another secret–the next day I tossed the leftover pasta with the leftover tomato sauce and it was almost a spiritual experience for me.

Will it disturb you if we move in close to check out that tender, tender chicken?

Mmmm, mmm, mmmmm.

And all that was left . . .

Click here for printer-friendly version: Chicken Parmesan

Parmesan Orzo with Asparagus

I was immediately inspired by this recipe from Tasty Kitchen. I’d only had orzo once before in my life, and it was in a very fancy dining room at Indiana University called the Tudor Room. I associate orzo with elegance, and the thought of making such an mahvellous little dish in only 20 minutes was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Add to that my love of asparagus and garlic, and you understand that it was quite simply meant to be!


(Serves 4)

1/2 lb orzo pasta
1 bunch asparagus
Zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pasta water
2 cloves garlic
4 TBS olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Boil up some salted water, and cook the orzo until it’s al dente.

My package said it would take 9 minutes for al dente pasta, and it was right. Before draining it, measure out some pasta water . . .

. . . and set it aside.

In the meantime, snap the tough ends off the asparagus, and chop it up into 2 inch lengths.

Heat up 2 TBS of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the asparagus . . .

. . . and cook for about 8 minutes, until crisp tender.

For some reason I always want to punch myself in the face after using the descriptor ‘crisp tender,’ but I can think of no other phrase that sums up that ideal quality of the perfectly cooked vegetable so precisely. At least no concise phrase–we could always go with ‘not mushy/schmooshy but not undercooked either, slightly bitey but not tough, with a soft crunch, but by ‘soft’ I don’t mean ‘soggy’ and by ‘crunch’ I don’t mean like a potato chip.’

Anyway, make sure to season the asparagus with salt and pepper as it cooks.

Set the cooked asparagus aside.

At this point, I used the same skillet to cook up a couple steaks.

A little more prep, and we’re ready to get this served up. Locate the nearest pair of man-hands, and kindly request that they grate up mountains of Parmesan.

More! More! I said ‘mountains,’ not ‘one lonely hillside’!

That’s better. Thank you, man-hands.

Zest the lemon:

Pause to inhale the wonderful tangy smell of that golden pile. Mmmm.

Finally, put the garlic through a garlic press or mince it up really, really finely.

Now it’s just a matter of throwing everything together. Return the cooked orzo to the pot. Stir in the Parmesan, garlic, lemon zest, 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil, asparagus, and pasta water.

Add plenty of salt and pepper, to taste. Et voilà, mon petit chou-chou!

You don’t mind if I call you my ‘little chou-chou’, do you?

Great. I didn’t think so.

Serve with fish, steak, chicken . . .

. . . or alone!

Some shrimp stirred in wouldn’t be bad either, now that I think about it.

Load on the extra Parmesan, if you so desire.

Woohoo! The Tudor Room no longer has a monopoly on my orzo experience.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Parmesan Orzo with Asparagus