Gluten free zucchini chicken parmesan bundles. How’s that for a mouthful (hardy har har)? You might be tempted to think that my kids are savvy eaters, since their mother spends so much time in the kitchen and they eat such a variety of foods. Resist the temptation. The first time my 9-year-old saw me making these she said, “Mom! You can put things inside chicken?” She was absolutely shocked. Well, not only can you put zucchini, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese inside skinless boneless chicken breast, you might even find that it becomes a family favorite—for vegetable lovers and haters alike. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: long live zucchini!
You do have to grate zucchini (and/or yellow squash—same thing in a different color, really) and wring out the moisture, like you do for our zucchini ricotta gnocchiand our zucchini tots, but no worries if you don’t get every last drop. With recipes like the ricotta and the tots, if you don’t get every drop of moisture, the dish won’t hold together. With our zucchini chicken parm bundles, the worst thing that will happen is the filling will leak a bit during baking.
Now I haven’t tried this, but I have a strong feeling that you can make these super flavorful bundles in a hot covered skillet to great effect. I would sear the filled chicken breast seam side down in a very hot, uncovered skillet to seal it closed, then flip it over and cover the skillet. Cook for about 6 minutes, then flip the breasts so they’re seam side down again, then cover and cook until the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant read thermometer (at least another 12 minutes). Coat with sauce and cheese, then cover and cook until the cheese is melted (another 3 minutes). I think it would be just as crispy on the outside and tender and creamy on the inside, and you wouldn’t have to turn on the oven. What do you think?
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Prep time:Cook time:Yield:5 Servings
4 ounces cream cheese cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon dried oregano, pressed into your palm to release its oils
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried garlic powder
8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, grated
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
2 1/4 cups zucchini and yellow squash, grated and squeezed dry of all liquid (280 g)* (from about 2 medium-large zucchini/squash)
12 ounces cooked gluten free spaghetti, for serving
Chopped fresh basil, for serving
*I squeeze the liquid out of grated zucchini and squash by placing it, about 1/4 cup at a time, in a tea towel, rolling up the towel and twisting it to squeeze out all of the liquid. You can use whatever combination of zucchini and yellow squash you would like, or all one or the other.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
Make the filling and assemble the bundles. In a medium-size bowl, place the cream cheese, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and garlic powder, and mix to combine well. Add 6 ounces of the grated mozzarella cheese, about half of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the zuccchini/squash, and mix until just combined. Lay out the chicken breasts on a flat surface, divide the cream cheese and zucchini mixture among them, and spread out the mixture evenly on top of each piece of chicken. Beginning at a short end of each chicken breast, roll tightly to the other end. At this point, the chicken bundles can be sealed into a freezer safe container and frozen. Before proceeding with the recipe, defrost the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
Coat the bundles. Before baking, set up a coating station of two shallow bowls: one with the egg wash, and one with the cornflake crumbs and remaining half of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Next to the cornflake crumbs, place the prepared baking sheet. Dredge each chicken bundle in the egg wash on all sides, allowing any excess to drip off, and then in the cornflake crumb mixture on all sides, pressing the crumbs gently onto the chicken to secure them. Place the bundles, seam side down, about an inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake and serve. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, place about 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce on top of each bundle and sprinkle with the remaining 2 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken is opaque throughout (another 5 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from the oven and serve over gluten free spaghetti, sprinkled with fresh basil.