Stuffed Chicken Breast with Quinoa and Spinach
When I was first starting to cook regularly, I was very scared of stuffing things. It seemed like an extra complicated step that was mostly unnecessary. Can’t you just cook the two things separately and serve them together without stuffing? But making this Stuffed Chicken Breast with Quinoa and Spinach is kind of a show-stopper and worth the work!
Beyond being fun once you get the hang of it, there are some real reasons why stuffing things makes sense.
For starters, it gives all the flavors a chance to mingle. But, more technically, for things like chicken breast, it makes it easier to cook the chicken breast through because you have to pound it to an even thickness before stuffing it. It should eliminate the classic chicken breast problem of some thicker parts being undercooked and some parts being dry.
All of that aside though, it also just looks amazing! Serving up a dish like Stuffed Chicken Breast has a great presentation!
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. cook tri-color quinoa according to package. This should involve rinsing the quinoa and cooking it in two cups of simmering water (per cup of quinoa), covered for 20 minutes, and then fluff it with a fork.
2) In a large skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add rinsed spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Let spinach cool and roughly chop it.
3) When quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and stir in chopped spinach, crumbled feta and black pepper. Season with a pinch of salt.
4) When you’re ready to stuff chicken, butterfly each chicken breast horizontally but don’t cut completely through the chicken. Cover each breast with plastic wrap and pound each breast until it’s an even thickness.
5) Unwrap each chicken breast and add a good amount of quinoa filing to each breast. Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, you should be able to fit 1/3-1/2 cup of filling per chicken breast. You might have some filling leftover though which you can serve on the side.
6) When chicken breasts are filled, carefully fold each one up and secure it with a few skewers so they hold their shape.
7) In a large skillet, add a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken breasts, seam side down and sear for five minutes. Then flip and sear for another 4-5 minutes.
8) Once all chicken breasts are seared, transfer them to the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
9) Let chicken cool for a minute or two, remove skewers, and slice and serve!
Stuffed Chicken Breast Filling
This stuffing is super versatile. If chicken breasts aren’t your thing, you can use it in stuffed mushrooms or just eat it as a side dish!
The base of the stuffing is this beautiful tri-color quinoa that Bob’s Red Mill makes. It’s awesome and delicious, but you could use any quinoa if you can’t find it.
Depending on the quinoa you end up using, your cooking instructions might vary a bit so you should check the instructions.
For most quinoa though, you’ll want to rinse the quinoa in cold water and then simmer it in a few cups of water for about 20 minutes, covered, until it’s light and fluffy.
Here’s my finished quinoa!
To add some extra flavors to the filling, I sauteed some spinach quickly with a drizzle of olive oil. I used a full bunch of adult spinach and seasoned it with some salt and red pepper flakes.
When the spinach is wilted, let it cool and then chop it up. You’ll need some crumbled feta also!
How to Stuff Chicken Breast
Ok. So this is where people tend to get a bit scared. Trust me. You can do this though.
To start, take your chicken breasts and butterfly them horizontally so they lay flat. Don’t cut all the way through them though. Then cover each one with some plastic wrap and gently pound them out into an even thickness.
You don’t need to use a lot of force here. Just gently pound them so they are in an even shape.
Then remove the plastic wrap and pile on the filling! Don’t worry about over-stuffing these. Some filling might fall out, but that’s okay.
Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, you should be able to stuff them with 1/3-1/2 cup of stuffing.
Then just roll the chicken up and secure each one with a few skewers. Don’t stress about losing filling or getting it perfect. It’ll be fine!
Cooking the Stuffed Chicken Breasts
To make sure the chicken stays stuffed, it helps to sear it and then finish it in the oven. I recommend seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper and then searing them in a hot skillet over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil.
Sear the chicken breasts with the seam-side down first so it locks in the filling. Sear each one for about five minutes.
Then you can sear them for a few minutes on the second side also and then transfer them straight to a hot oven. The oven will gently cook the chicken through.
Cook them for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. If you want to be super-sure your chicken is cooked through, I recommend testing them with a meat thermometer. You’re looking for an internal temperature of around 165 degrees.
You can also test one to make sure by slicing it in half, but it’s best to let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing into it.
Then you can serve these Stuffed Chicken Breast beauties up with any side of your choosing. I just roasted a few brussels sprouts to serve on the side and also piled on some extra filling that I had to round out the plate.
This recipe is such a delicious and healthy dinner and makes for a great presentation. Give it a shot!