This Baked Chicken Parmesan Penne is an easy, quick meal to make and you won’t even notice the healthier changes once you taste how amazing it is.
For the first 30+ years of my life, I didn’t eat Chicken Parmesan. I said I didn’t like it (and believed it), I would turn my nose up at it if offered, I would eat just about anything else available just as long as it wasn’t Chicken Parm. The basis of my argument was that chicken and marinara did not go together and that the entire dish was intrinsically wrong.
Obviously, I owe the chicken and the marinara a big, heartfelt apology. My husband is Italian and he finally wore me down and I went searching for a recipe to make HIM .. not ME… his almighty, intrinsically wrong dinner. So I made it, the right way.. pan fried chicken, homemade sauce, fresh mozzarella.
And I tried it. And ate it. And went back for seconds. Possibly thirds…..
Where had this been my whole life, I wondered? The Chicken Parmesan of days past was mushy and gross and I will not even start with my feeling of wet bread and soggy breading (I can go on FOR DAYS on that subject). This was perfection, al dente pasta with tangy marinara covered in crisp chicken cutlets and melty, ooey, gooey cheese. I think after that we had Chicken Parmesan once a week for months to follow until finally Husband put his foot down and convinced me to move on. I begrudgingly said goodbye to my weekly fix and now revisit my former favorite once every month or so with open arms and grumbling belly.
Enter, Caribbean diet, Stage Left.
With our recent lifestyle changes, I have been on a quest to lighten up some of our favorite meals. I can’t go all crazy (yet) and switch everything up to ‘none of that’ and ‘super skim lite of this’ but what I can live with is making a few simple modifications so that our favorite dishes can remain what we love. To my way of thinking, if you completely remove all that you enjoy in a meal, what’s the point of eating it? I love cheese! If I completely replace my full fat (#glorious) cheese with super skim 1% “cheese”, I will be miserable and then why eat it at all? Instead, I substitue my whole milk cheese with the partially reduced fat cheese and I never know the difference. Baby step, kids, baby steps.
So here comes my version of lightened up Chicken Parmesan. It’s not full fat, it’s not no fat… it’s just right!
Baked Chicken Parmesan Penne
Start by making your sauce so it has extra time to cook while you are preparing the rest of the meal. In a medium sized sauce pan, pour your tomato sauce, paste, diced shallot, spices and fresh basil. Bring to a low boil while stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to Low and simmer, covered, while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs and set aside. Pour the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and set aside.
If you are using whole chicken breasts, slice them in half lengthwise so that you have 6 chicken cutlets.
Dip a cutlet into the whisked eggs so that both sides are coated. Then dip the cutlet into the breadcrumbs, coating both sides as well. Lay on a wire rack placed on a cooking sheet pan and repeat until all of your cutlets have been breaded.
Since I was making dinner for just me and Mike, I only made four cutlets but the recipe is for six, for those who are playing along at home.
Slide your chicken in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. When you chicken is near done, set a pot of salted water to boil and once brought to boiling, cook your penne per the manufacturers instructions. Drain and set aside.
When the chicken is cooked, spoon a ladle of sauce on top of each cutlet and cover with slices of mozzarella.
Return the chicken to the oven until the cheese is melted. When done, remove from the oven, slice the cutlets and build your plate of baked chicken parmesan over whole grain penne. Serve immediately.
Like I said, it’s not 100% low fat but you save a lot of calories by not frying the chicken and be using whole grain pasta and reduced fat cheese. This is absolutely an easy, quick meal to make and you won’t even notice the healthier changes once you taste how amazing it is.