Do you enjoy any odd snack foods? I have a thing for croutons. Not only do I go out of my way to scoop as many as is politely possible onto my salad plate at buffets, I also really like snacking on them on their own – yep, right out of the package and usually when I’m making dinner. I’ve even been known to pour some in a bowl and munch on them while I’m watching TV. My very favorite use for them, however, is in chicken parm because crushed croutons are my secret breading ingredient! They make the perfectly seasoned golden crust.
Chicken parm is one of our favorite dishes and I recently decided it needed to be amped up a bit. In this version, I topped my breaded chicken not only with marinara and mozzarella, but also with a layer of creamy ricotta and roasted eggplant. Mmm, if you enjoy chicken and eggplant parm, you’ll love this!
Chicken Parm Eggplant Stacks
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 1/2-inch thick long eggplant slices (from 2 medium eggplants cut lengthwise)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup of your favorite crouton crumbs
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied in half lengthwise so you have 6 pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
To roast the eggplant, heat oven to 375˚F. Brush eggplants slices on both sides with olive oil and place on a large cookie sheet. Roast eggplant at 375˚F for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
To prepare the chicken, place flour and salt in a shallow dish and mix well. Place eggs in another shallow dish and mix well with a fork. Place crouton crumbs in a third shallow dish. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken in the flour, then the egg, and then the croutons until well covered. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a medium nonstick skillet. Place three pieces of chicken in the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side for or until cooked through, no longer pink in the center, and firm to your touch. Repeat with three remaining pieces of chicken and olive oil. Place cooked chicken pieces in a 13×9-inch pan.
To assemble the stacks, heat broiler. Mix ricotta cheese, oregano, pecorino romano cheese, and salt in a small bowl until smooth. Top cooked chicken pieces evenly half the marinara and then the ricotta mixture. Top ricotta mixture with roasted eggplant slices, remaining marinara, and mozzarella cheese. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until ricotta is heated through and mozzarella cheese is melted. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition: 491 calories, 23.0g fat, 6.2g fiber, 47.7g protein per serving
Cost: $2.03 per serving