Saturday, September 15, 2012

Greek Style Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken (Spaniko-chicken)

Today I was thinking about how I missed having Spanikopita (Greek spinach pies) that I used to make -- a mixture of spinach, feta and other herbs and seasonings sandwiched between multiple layers of flaky phyllo pastry.  What I really missed wasn't the phyllo but the taste of the spinach and feta filling.  So, while out shopping today, I decided to make a similar Spanikopita filling and rather than sandwich it between layers of phyllo pastry (made with wheat), that instead I would roll it in chicken breast cutlets and bake them.  When I got home, I began making the spinach-cheese filling and then remembered I still had an extra little baggie full of the seasoned almond flour crumbs in the fridge from a couple nights ago when I made the Chicken Parmesan.  So, after stuffing and rolling up the chicken cutlets, I made a quick little egg-wash and dunked them in it and then rolled them in the remaining seasoned almond flour crumbs -- I literally had just enough left!  I will say that, the cutlets were a little tricky (messy) to fill and roll up, but not at all difficult to do.  I secured them with toothpicks and little bamboo skewers to hold them together while they baked.  They turned out delicious and were beautiful when plated.  All of a sudden, I wasn't missing Spanikopita any more!  Hubby really liked them a lot too.  I snapped a few pics below of our meal as well as the recipe that I put together.  Enjoy!

Spinach & cheese filling
Stuffed, breaded, drizzled and ready to pop in the oven

Greek Style Spinach & Feta Stuffed Chicken (Spaniko-chicken)


1 6-oz bag fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
2-3 green onions (spring onions), sliced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (about 1 lemon's zest)
3 oz feta cheese crumbled (I buy it in 6-oz containers and use half; feel free to add more)
1/3 cup diced fresh mozzarella, optional (for the melty/stretchy/not too salty quality)
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash nutmeg
Dash garlic powder
Olive oil (for sauteing)

Other Ingredients
6 Chicken Breast Cutlets (about 1-1/4 lbs)
Seasoned almond flour for coating (3/4 - 1 cup)
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with splash of half-n-half, salt and pepper)
Paprika (for sprinkling on after cooking)


In a medium-high non-stick skillet, put a drizzle of olive oil and quickly wilt the spinach leaves; remove to a mesh strainer and press as much liquid out as possible; place in a medium bowl and set aside to cool.  Add another drizzle of olive oil to the skillet and lightly saute the green onion for a couple minutes and remove from heat.  Take the cooled, well drained spinach and put on a cutting board and chop well; add back to bowl along with the parsley, cooked green onions, lemon zest, feta, mozzarella, and the remainder of the seasonings and mix well.

Lay chicken cutlets out on a cutting board or work area and divide the filling evenly between the cutlets, placing mixture in the center of the cutlet and roll up lengthwise as tightly as possible; secure with bamboo skewers or toothpicks to keep from unrolling while cooking.  Dredge the stuffed chicken bundles in the egg wash and then roll in the seasoned almond flour crumbs and place on a foil lined baking pan that has been heavily coated with olive oil.  Lightly drizzle the tops of the breaded cutlets with olive oil.  Bake at 375 F degrees for 20-25 minutes.  If more browning is desired, briefly run under the broiler for a few minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with paprika for color.  Let cool about 5-10 minutes to allow cheeses to set; carefully remove all toothpicks and skewers; slice and serve.  Serves 3-4.