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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chicken Bella

Bella means "beautiful" in Italian. This is so very pretty for a skillet dish! The colors of the spinach, the roasted red tomatoes and the creamy sauce are a feast for the eyes. But not just for the eyes, the flavors in this dish are perfect together.  I have always loved garlic and cream cheese, but the addition of Pancetta, with its salty goodness and the crazy sweetness of the roasted tomatoes--well this is just a beautiful combination. So fitting the name.

You could use sun dried tomatoes, but I promise these are so easy, just try roasting your own. Roasting makes them so sweet and flavorful. Really essential to the success of this dish. They are not pretty, alone, but they add a wonderful pop of color to the skillet. I even saved a few to spinkle on top for extra eye appeal.  Apart
from the roasting, the entire entree is make in one skillet.

This dish is amazing. More than good enough for non-low carbing guests. For them, you may want to serve it atop a small nest of noodles or over rice. We ate it plain, with a plain salad. Italian dressing is a good choice. The tartness contrasts with the creaminess of the sauce.

This is one of the recipes I will be featuring in the upcoming May edition of the Diner News. Skillet meals will be the theme, with lots of great new quick dinners for you. My skillets will be busy the next two weeks, so stay tuned! Each Diner News is packed with 8 pages of recipes and tips. Such a steal at just $6 a year. This April issue is all about "girly" foods for spring events. Salads, desserts and appetizers for showers, Spring Teas, parties and luncheons. Order here.

Chicken Bella

6 oz grape or cherry tomatoes
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breast)*
2 oz pancetta or diced bacon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese
4 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Slice tomatoes into halves. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and roast the tomatoes at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting, heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. If using full breast of chicken, pound it  to an even thickness. Trim any fat from chicken. Slice if desired. Add chicken and pancetta to the pan. Brown until nearly cooked through. Add garlic and sauté another 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Pour chicken broth into the skillet, using a spatula to loosen any browned bits from the base. Over medium heat, stir in cream cheese until melted. When the sauce is smooth, add in the spinach. Stir until wilted. Add the chicken and roasted tomatoes, stirring gently.  When up to temperature again, sprinkle with mozzarella. Serve alongside a tasty alongside a green salad with Italian dressing.

*You may choose to use whole breasts or thighs for a more formal presentation. I like the sliced thighs for faster cooking and easier eating. The choice is yours.

Serves 4:  400 calories   6 net g carb    (salad not included)

I named this beautiful dish after one of my students. Just like this dish, Miss Bella is beautiful and wonderful too. She makes everyone around her happy. She is a little bit saucy at times, and has such wonderful bursts of sweetness (just like the tomatoes). Though she is not Italian, I think she can appreciate the similarities. Classes are winding down, and we are full on with the final push to graduation! It is a busy time. Not sure what this summer is going to look like. I hope I will find things to occupy my ever wandering mind. I am hoping to have more time for creativity in the kitchen. What are your plans?

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Tracey C. said...

This seriously...looks AMAZING!!! Thanks for sharing!

Aaron Grey said...

Hi, can I contact you through your email? I've something to share that might interest you.


Bobbi Newhauser said...

Looks delicious

Bobbi Newhauser said...

Looks delicious

Amanda Dawn England said...

How did you roast your cherry tomatoes? The only way I could get a char on them was to broil them and it just got messy. Everything else is delicious and the chicken is so moist. I only had a nonstick pan so I didn't have the drippings had I used my cast-iron. And next time I will use kale instead of the spinach.

Lisa Marshall said...


I did exactly as I wrote. No broiling at all. Perhaps it is the tomato itself. I used grape tomatoes which are probably smaller than cherry. Maybe they have less moisture inside as well.


BarbaraAL46 said...

Would love a printer friendly version. Looks good

Tanisha Singh said...

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Casey said...

I made this for dinner tonight, and it was absolutely outstanding! Thank you!

Suzie said...

What can be used instead of spinach? Love it raw, hate it cooked. Kale isn't an option either. Thanks!!

Lisa Marshall said...

I don't really taste the spinach at all. You could try some swiss chard leaves perhaps? Or just leave it out and up the tomatoes if you can handle the carbs.

Anonymous said...

I don't like cooked spinach AT ALL and didn't taste it in this recipe. It was so good!