Monday, August 12, 2013

Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Chicken over Cabbage "Noodles" & Fresh Tomato Sauce

Every year my parents grow a big, beautiful garden and I get to enjoy all the amazing vegetables from it. My dad takes a lot of care not to use harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and he still gets huge, gorgeous vegetables that taste so fresh. This recipe was inspired by that very garden and I created a "farm dinner" that I served for my family al fresco, dining right next to the very place providing our food. I used my dad's crunchy, sweet cabbage as a mock pasta, cutting it into long, spaghetti strands and sauteing it with lots of garlic, olive oil and fresh Italian herbs. The chicken was stuffed with a trio of cheeses and tender green, just picked spinach. All of this was topped with a fresh tomato sauce, made from sun ripened, still warm tomatoes that were cooked all day to make them even more amazing. I served a summer squash and green tomato flatbread alongside, which made it a great vessel for getting every drop of sauce. Not a single thing was leftover and everyone cleared their plates, it was aaaaawesome!! After dinner we built a big bonfire and had s'mores, no need to cook dessert too, I wanted to put all my focus into this serious dinner! I know the ingredient list looks long, but don't let that stop you, the ingredients are inexpensive and the meal is so great for a crowd or for lots of leftovers.

This recipe serves 6-8.


Fresh Tomato Sauce

10 large fresh tomatoes, mine were the size of apples.

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

6 Cloves organic garlic, minced.

2 Large sweet onions, such as a spring onion or very large shallots.

1 Cup dry white wine, I use Pinot Grigio.

4 Tbsp organic tomato paste

1 Fresh organic bay leaf

3 Sprigs fresh, organic thyme, leaves only, chopped.

1 Sprig fresh, organic oregano, leaves only, chopped.

1/2 Cup fresh, organic basil leaves, chopped.

Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste.

2 Tbsp fair trade, organic, raw cane sugar


8 Pasture raised chicken thighs, boneless and skin on.

Sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to season.

1 Cup pasture raised mozzarella cheese, grated.

Few Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to rub on chicken.

2 Cups fresh organic baby spinach, chopped.

8 oz Pasture raised cream cheese, room temp., I use Organic Valley.

1/4 Cup pasture raised cheddar, grated, I use Cabot.

1/4 Cup parmesan cheese, grated.

1/4 Cup pasture raised sour cream, I use Byrne Dairy.

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Clove organic garlic, grated or minced.

Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste.

Cabbage "Noodles"

1 Large head organic cabbage, sliced in long strips like you would for coleslaw.

3 Cloves organic garlic, minced or grated.

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste.


Bring a large pot of water to boil, cut an X in the bottom of each tomato and boil them for 2 minutes, in batches. Remove them to a large bowl and set aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle peel off the skin and discard. Break the "meat" up discarding the stem and any hard parts that don't easily break up.

In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom sauce pan heat up the olive oil over medium heat and add in the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes or until they are very soft and translucent, do not let them brown. Add in the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme and oregano. Saute for another minute just to melt the tomato paste. Add in the fresh tomatoes and break up with the back of a wooden spoon, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes, it will cook down and thicken. When it is done add in the fresh basil and stir just to wilt, remove from heat and add in the sugar. Taste for additional seasoning and salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaf.

While the sauce is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a saute pan over medium high heat, wilt the spinach. Wring out in a clean kitchen towel until no more water comes out, or press over a fine mesh with a spatula, you need to get all the moisture out of the spinach.

Pound out your chicken thighs very thin, but not falling apart, you need to be able to stuff and roll them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on the non-skin side.

In small bowl mix together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan, sour cream, mayo, spinach, garlic, salt and pepper. Put 2-3 Tbsp of filling onto one side of each chicken thigh (non-skin side) and roll them up tightly around the filling, place seam side down in a baking dish. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through and are browned. Top with some of the sauce, on each, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

While the Sauce and chicken cook, heat olive oil for the cabbage, over medium heat, in a very large saute pan. Add in the garlic, cabbage and some salt and pepper, mix to coat all the cabbage with olive oil, it will take patience because you have a lot of cabbage to coat. As the cabbage cooks it will lose volume, cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the cabbage is browned and tender. Stir occasionally and add water if necessary, if the pan gets too dry. I like to add in a few Tbsp of water at a time to keep everything from burning. Taste and season with salt and pepper, remove from heat.

To plate: put down a bed of cabbage "noodles," top with a stuffed chicken (we cut ours in half they were so big) and smother with additional sauce. I like to serve mine with garlic bread or flatbread, to sop up all the beautiful, summer tomato sauce! Enjoy!

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