As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen, I only make easy dinners during the week—crockpot stews, grilled cheese, pasta with a simple sauce. The other night one of my best friends came over and we decided to cook instead of eating out. After a little thought, we settled on chicken breasts stuffed with spinach, garlic, and mozzarella, with a side of curry-infused, veggie-loaded couscous. (Although the steps below might seem complicated, the recipe is really easy once you get started.) The chicken took about 45 minutes to cook, which gave us plenty of time to prep the rest of our ingredients, set the table, and indulge in some girl talk.
For the chicken:
~Vegetable or other cooking oil
~4 tbsp. crushed garlic
~10 oz. spinach leaves, divided
~2 tbsp. lemon juice
~2 to 3 cups flour
~2 to 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
~Approximately 7 (depending on size) thin-sliced chicken breasts
~Whole-milk mozzarella, cut into 1 oz. slices
For the couscous:
~1 box Near East Mediterranean Curry couscous
~2 tsp. olive oil, plus 2 tsp. reserved
~2 cups white and yellow corn, cooked
~1.5 cups chopped kale, cooked
~1.5 cups chopped red cabbage
~1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
~1/4 cup golden honey
~Sweet paprika, to taste
~Garlic powder, to taste
~Salt, to taste
~Add 3 tbsp. vegetable oil to a large skillet on medium-low heat. Once oil warms, add garlic, stirring often, until lightly brown and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add 5 oz. spinach and cook about 5 minutes; add additional 5 oz. spinach and cook several minutes more, until soft. Add lemon juice and mix, then turn off heat and set aside.
~Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
~On the left-hand side of a roasting tin or piece of aluminum foil with the edges turned upward, pour flour into a small pile. On the right-hand side, pour breadcrumbs. Beat eggs in a small bowl.
~To a second tin, add a shallow layer of vegetable oil.
~Working one breast at a time, coat chicken thoroughly with flour, dip into egg, then press both sides firmly into breadcrumb. It helps to have a large cutting board on which to lay chicken flat after breading.
~Top chicken with sautéed spinach, then add mozzarella slices. Be generous with the cheese—you might have to use more than one piece to make sure the breast is covered from end to end.
~Starting with whichever end is smaller, roll chicken breasts and place face-down into oiled tin. Stick 1 to 2 toothpicks through the tops of each to hold them together.
~Bake for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees. In that time, the cheese should bubble and the breadcrumbs should brown.
For the couscous:
~After chicken has been baking for about 20 minutes, combine 1.25 cups water, 2 tsp. olive oil, and the contents of the couscous spice sack into a medium saucepan.
~Bring to a boil, then stir in couscous.
~Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
~Add corn and kale to couscous and combine. (We used the frozen, microwavable bags, which take about 5 minutes each to cook. We made them right after popping the chicken into the oven; this way, they were ready to add to the couscous as soon as it finished cooking.)
~Add cabbage and walnuts to couscous and mix well.
~Stir in honey and remaining olive oil.
~Add paprika, garlic powder, and salt to taste; combine thoroughly before serving.