Imagine tender, juicy chicken coated in a thick layer of buttery Parmesan and nutrient-rich spinach. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be! This delicious low-carb chicken dish is really easy to throw together and it’ll make the whole family happy. Get ready to meet your new favorite recipe!
Tips for making the Amazingly Easy Spinach Chicken Parmesan
Like I said, this recipe is amazingly easy to make, so you can probably guess that there are no special gimmicks involved. However, two things will guarantee maximum success and smooth preparation: Use butter that’s soft enough and drain your spinach really well.
Here’s why: If you use butter that’s too cold, the mixture won’t get smooth: the butter remains in tiny lumps. And if you don’t drain the thawed spinach properly, it’ll release far too much fluid and the topping will become watery. The drier the spinach, the better. You should squeeze the excess water out of the thawed spinach to achieve the best result. When you drain it well, a 10 oz (280 g) package spinach yields the 6 oz (170 g) the recipe calls for.
I didn’t try this recipe with fresh spinach because I wanted to make it really easy to prepare — and besides, it’s the middle of winter and it’s not easy to get good-quality fresh spinach. And there’s definitely no local spinach around at this time of year!
So, when you remember those two things, preparing this super-scrumptious dish is as easy as eating it. Oh, and I don’t think this dish needs any added salt — the salted butter and Parmesan provides all the salt you need. However, feel free to add some natural salt, like unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt, if your taste buds are itching for more.
But let’s take a look at how to make this wonderful dish:
First, place the chicken breasts in a glass or ceramic baking dish.
Take the well-drained spinach and put it into a bowl.
Add the Parmesan…
…and the butter.
Mix with an electric mixer…
Divide the mixture between the chicken breasts.
Pat the surface smooth and even with wet fingertips.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes…
…or until the juices run clear.
My Spinach Chicken Parmesan experiments
For several consecutive weeks there I was posting sweet recipes on this blog. There were so many that I started to feel ashamed of myself! I wanted to post some savory recipes for a change. Now, after posting several savory recipes in a row, I can’t stop! It’s just so wonderful to find fun new ways to prepare dishes that are easy to make on a busy weekday — dishes that please the whole family.
Talk about inspiration! I’ve made a list of recipe ideas I want to develop and post. This Spinach Chicken Parmesan recipe has been on that list for a very long time. I think I originally got the idea when I was figuring out what kinds of delicious toppings I could add to my chicken.
Spinach sounded like a healthy choice (and I don’t use it very often for some reason, so it was about time to give it some airspace), but it doesn’t taste like much on its own. So I needed something flavorful to amp up the taste.
I did one very lame chicken and spinach experiment quite exactly one year ago where I topped chicken breasts with spinach, heavy cream, onion powder and salt. I also sprinkled some grated cheese on top, but it was mild, pizza-type cheese.
I was extremely disappointed with my experiment. The heavy cream was a mistake: the whole thing – including the spinach – was just swimming in it. Worse, the dish was tasteless and the little taste it had was—well, weird. My favorite seasoning, onion powder, wasn’t any good here. And the cheese was just boring and bland.
So, definitely no cream this time: it adds too much fluid. But maybe the taste would improve with sharp cheese? Feta cheese is often paired with spinach (especially in Greek kitchens), but for some reason I’m not a fan of this common combo. Feta is great and spinach is great, but the combination makes me nauseous. That’s a fact. But that wasn’t a problem for long: soon I figured out that sharp, salty, grated Parmesan would add the flavor I was missing.
But, if I were to combine just spinach and Parmesan, I mused, the mixture wouldn’t hold together. I needed something to bind the mixture, since I definitely wasn’t going to use heavy cream again.
I was browsing the Internet and came across some Spinach Chicken Parmesan recipes. Aha! I wasn’t the only one who’d been thinking of combining spinach, Parmesan, and chicken.
But I was disappointed with most of those recipes. Either they were too complicated or then they contained too many ingredients. And most of them contained something yucky like wheat flour and skim milk. You’ll never see those in my kitchen (except the wheat flour I bought after Christmas when I baked a cake for our neighbor — a lovely lady who took care of our house while we were in Germany during Christmas. I hadn’t baked with wheat flour for so many years that my first attempts simply failed. But that’s another story. However, I finally managed to make a decent cake, which the neighbor lady liked, luckily…!)
So, browsing other recipes didn’t help. I still needed something simple to bind the spinach and Parmesan topping.
Then it hit me: softened butter! When I was conducting my Schlemmerfilet Bordelaise experiments, I noticed that butter was the perfect substance for binding the other ingredients together. Plus, it would make the dish rich, and would provide the fat that you need when you’re following a ketogenic diet.
So, now I had chicken, spinach, Parmesan, and butter. There was still room for one more ingredient. I thought some kind of spice would be the icing on the cake, and soon I figured out that white pepper would be the perfect match for the other flavors. Actually, I think I pretty much always add white pepper to my spinach dishes! (Except when I make spinach pancakes: they just cry out for mustard! It’s not as weird as it sounds. Believe me, it’s delicious!)
For my first experiment, I took 3 chicken breasts, because that was all I had. I had planned to use 4 chicken breasts, but didn’t want to go all the way to the store just for a single chicken breast.
In addition, I took 5.3 oz (150 g) frozen spinach that I had thawed. I mixed the spinach with 3/4 cup (180 ml) freshly grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup (60 ml) butter. I seasoned the mixture with a pinch of freshly ground white pepper.
I patted the topping evenly onto the chicken breasts. Since I didn’t want to heat up the oven just for this one dish, I decided to cook the spinach, Parmesan and butter-topped chicken breasts in the skillet—covered with a lid, of course, so that the topping would melt nicely.
The result was tasty, but frying the chicken in the skillet wasn’t the best method. No, I would need to bake it in the oven. Now it was too pale and the texture was off; it was sort of mushy. It was missing that thin, slightly crunchy crust it would have gotten if I had baked it. But the taste itself was divine!
For my next experiment, I bought plenty of chicken breasts so that I wouldn’t run out of them too soon. Besides, I still had to perfect the recipe — to adjust the measurements for 4 chicken breasts. And I also needed to reserve enough chicken for the photos and the video that accompany this post. So, it looked like we were going to be eating chicken for quite awhile…!
My next experiment was actually the recipe you’ll see below. I had done careful calculations, so I didn’t need to change anything. The oven-baked chicken was super-juicy, and the topping turned out gorgeous. It was soft, but, thanks to the butter, it held together well, creating a beautiful green crown for the neutral-colored chicken. And there was no lack of flavor: the dish tasted superb!
My family raved about it, too. “Great with spinach!” commented my husband. “This chicken tastes really good!” said my soon-to-be-8-year-old son. Mission accomplished: my recipe passed with flying colors!
And here’s the recipe for this officially-family-approved dish:
|Per serving if 4 servings in total
Tips for variation
One variation that immediately comes to mind is to add a couple crushed garlic cloves to the topping. That would make this dish even more scrumptious!
Feel free to use some fiery spices as well (although remember that they may not be especially kid-friendly). Either crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper would provide a nice, sharp kick.
Oh yes, as last week was the Valentine’s Day, I did some baking. This heart-shaped cake uses the brownie recipe from my Low Sugar, So Simple book. I added some freeze-dried crushed raspberries to the batter. It tasted divine!
This cheesecake is also made according to the recipe in my Low Sugar, So Simple book, except I added some lime, lemon, and orange essential oils (one drop each) to create a citrus-burst cheesecake. We all loved it!