I may not be the most professional chef, but sometimes its nice to cook something a little bit more sophisticated…or at least something that looks a little bit more sophisticated. What says sophistication more than our first learning objective: cheese? Unfortunately I don’t quite have the palatte or experience to explore recipes with Brie or Gouda, so I am taking my first baby step with Ricotta.
According to Bon Appetite, Ricotta works best when used as a supporting ingredient. This chicken recipe does just that by utilizing the cheese as a filling. Stuffing a protein or a vegetable is always a great way to add a new dimension (as I discussed in my earlier attempt at stuffed tomatoes) and one can never go wrong when including cheese in the stuffing. Its the ingredient that glues all the others together.
The second theme builds on the exploration of a previous objective: cauliflower. Although I have worked with cauliflower before and it turned out alright, I was craving the cauliflower crunch with spice. I felt like there was something off about the citrus cauliflower combination I tried before. Besides it never hurts to have an arsenal of vegetable recipes.
Panko Crusted Chicken Stuffed With Ricotta, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil
1 cup low fact ricotta cheese (I used whole fat ricotta)
Small handful of baby spinach (chopped)
Small handful of grape tomatoes (diced, with removed seeds)
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil Chopped
1 Clove garlic minced
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Dash of oregano
2 chicken breasts
Italian seasoned panko crumbs (I used regular panko crumbs)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Directions found at For The Love of Cooking. Recipe adapted from For The Love of Cooking by Pam.
Low Calorie Crunchy Cauliflower
4 cups of Cauliflower Florets
2 cups of Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (I used panko breadcrumbs)
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
2 eggs (beaten)
1 teaspoon mustard
Directions can be found at Going Cavewoman. Recipe adapted from Going Cavewoman.
Southwestern Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Paprika
1 (2 lb.) head of cauliflower
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions can be found at Cookin Canuck. Recipe adapted from Cookin Canuck by Dara.
The chicken turned out quite well and was fairly easy to make! I had quite a bit of ricotta filling and had made the mistake of buying smaller chicken breasts…meaning I couldn’t stuff as much filling into each breast. To use more of the filling I cooked three breasts instead of two (I still had leftover). Remember to use caution and care when flipping from one side to the other! I used an iron pan to make this. Until I made this I hadn’t known it was oven safe. The sweetness of the tomatoes combines well with slight sweetness of the cheese and the black pepper. A definite remake in my opinion.
The cauliflower was a bit of a different story. The crunchy cauliflower had interesting texture but little actual flavour. It worked really well when dipped in barbeque sauce. The paprika cauliflower turned out okay. There was no interesting texture and I felt like it fell flat. While the cauliflower was mildly disappointing, there is still hope for the future. As I have been cooking and tasting new foods and flavour combinations, I find that I have been coming up with my own ideas to revamp the meals. Perhaps it is the beginnings of a cooking intuition? Next time I would use the mix of spices from the paprika cauliflower and combine them into the breaded mixture for the crunchy cauliflower thereby making a spicy, crunchy cauliflower? If that doesn’t work out, why not bring it back to today’s learning objective and just add cheese in someway or another? Possibly cauliflower with habanero?
My takeaway from this post for you reader would be to explore some different cheeses. Bring them to your dishes in fillings and toppings. Ricotta worked out so well that I used the leftover to make an omelette for lunch the next day and added some red peppers and mushrooms into the mix. It was the best omelette that I’ve ever made. To my knowledge many mainstream cheeses are quite versatile and in my opinion could be mixed with almost any other ingredient to make something delicious.