Saturday, October 9, 2010

Chicken Parmesan, Baked Ditalini, and Bruschetta

Chicken Parmesan is one of those dishes that so many Italian restaurants do poorly, but it's ridiculously simple.  I can't tell you how many times I've had one that's greasy, over-sauced, and dripping with too much melted cheese.  You can eat a breaded chicken breast that's not completely unhealthy!

Chicken Parmesan
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, patted dry
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten with a bit of milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (PLEASE don't use the crap in the green can!)
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herbs, or 1 tsp. each dried basil, oregano, and marjoram
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Olive oil
Homemade or jarred pasta sauce, about 2 cups
Additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, for serving

Heat oven to 400º.  Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish to coat.

Place the flour on a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper.  Put the beaten egg and milk in a shallow bowl.  Mix the dried herbs and Parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl.

Working one at a time, dredge each chicken breast into the seasoned flour, shake off excess, dip in beaten egg, and roll in breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere.  Place each breaded breast in the prepared baking dish.

Bake until the edges and tops of the chicken are golden brown and juices run clear, about 20 minutes.  While the chicken is baking, simmer the pasta sauce in a small pan until slightly thickened.

Serve each chicken breast with some sauce spooned over, and sprinkle on additional grated Parmesan, if desired.

Chicken Parmesan and baked ditalini

On the side of chicken parm at restaurants is usually a pile of spaghetti marinara.  My husband asked for some baked ziti or something similar, and so I made this simple dish.  He prefers baked pasta that is not loaded down with cheese, and that is heavier on tomatoes.

Instead of ziti, I used ditalini, which are tube-shaped like ziti but much shorter, making them kid-friendly and good for soaking up all the sauce.  I simply boiled about a cup of dry pasta in salted water until it was *almost* done, mixed it in a shallow baking dish with a generous amount of pasta sauce, covered it with foil, and baked it alongside the chicken.  After it was hot and bubbling, I tossed some Parmesan on top.

For an appetizer, we went further with the crazy tomato goodness by having bruschetta on fresh French bread.

Bruschetta (say it correctly, please- broos-KET-uh, not broo-SHET-uh) is super simple and very customizable.  I diced 3 tomatoes, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, and mixed in some freeze-dried basil, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  After chilling briefly, the concoction is spooned over slices of crusty bread.  You can toast the slices first with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Buon appetito!

1 comment:

Shelley Parker Chandler said...

I'm going to have to try this. We like Chicken Parmesan, but you are 100% correct about that served in many restaurants. I like the idea of the ditalini, too. Thanks for posting this.