Basil-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This stylish main course is, surprisingly, not laden with fat. The chicken breast halves can be prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated. Tagliatelle tossed with a little grated lemon zest makes a good accompaniment for the basil-stuffed chicken breasts, plus ciabatta with olives or sun-dried tomatoes.

Low Calorie Cookbook, Reader’s Digest


Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 25-30minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 25-30minutes
Cook Time
Servings: servings
Servings: servings
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Make a slit along the length of each chicken breast half and enlarge to form a “pocket.”
  2. Divide the mozzarella cheese between the chicken breast halves, sliding the slices into the pockets. Top the cheese with the tomato slices and crushed garlic. Roughly chop a little of the basil and add a sprinkling to each pocket.
  3. Season each chicken breast. Place a large sprig of basil on each, then wrap in a slice of prosciutto, making sure the ham covers the slit in the chicken. Tie the ham securely with 3 or 4 pieces of string on each breast.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan (preferably one with an ovenproof handle) over medium heat. Add the basil-stuffed chicken breasts and sauté over high heat until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven or transfer the chicken to a baking dish. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when the thickest part is pierced with a knife, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the salad. Put the oil and lemon juice in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and whisk together. Add the lettuce and watercress, and toss together. Divide between 4 serving plates.
  6. Remove the string from the chicken breasts. Cut each piece crosswise into slices, holding it together so it keeps its shape. Arrange on the salad and garnish with the remaining basil.
Recipe Notes

Another Idea:
As an alternative to the mozzarella filling, use feta cheese and watercress. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté 1/2 minced red onion, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 ounces watercress sprigs and sauté until the watercress just wilts, about 1 minute longer. Crumble in 3 ounces feta cheese, and season with nutmeg and black pepper.

Plus Points:
Mozzarella contains less fat than many cheeses. For example, a 1 ounce serving of whole-milk mozzarella has 79 calories and 6.1 g fat, while the same amount of cheddar cheese has 113 calories and 9.3 g fat.
The Greeks and Romans believed eating watercress could cure madness. We, too, attribute healing powers to this green leaf, because it contains powerful phytochemicals that help to protect against cancer. It is also a good source of many B vitamins, plus vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.

Per serving: calories 339, protein 40 g, fat 19 g (of which saturated fat 6 g), carbohydrate 1.5 g (of which sugars 1 g), fibre 1 g