Basil-stuffed chicken breasts

    45 min

    This stylish-looking main course is surprisingly easy to make. The chicken breasts can be prepared in advance, ready for cooking, and kept, covered, in the fridge. Tagliatelle tossed with a little grated lemon zest would be a good accompaniment, plus ciabatta with olives or sun-dried tomatoes.

    55 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (fillets), about 140 g (5 oz) each
    • 100 g (3 1/2 oz) mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
    • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 bunch of fresh basil, about 20 g (1/2 oz)
    • 4 slices Parma ham, about 55 g (2 oz) in total
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • Green salad
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) pack gourmet lettuce selection or mixed salad leaves
    • 1 bunch of watercress, large stalks discarded

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:15min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F, gas mark 7). Make a slit along the length of each chicken breast and enlarge to form a pocket.
    2. Divide the mozzarella among the chicken breasts, 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 Parma ham, making sure the ham covers the slit in the chicken. Tie the ham securely in place with three or four pieces of string on each breast.
    4. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan (preferably one with an ovenproof handle). Add the chicken breasts and fry over a high heat for 3–4 minutes, turning to brown both sides. Transfer the pan to the oven (or transfer the chicken to an oven dish) and bake for 10–12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through; the juices should run clear when the thickest part of the chicken is pierced with a knife.
    5. Meanwhile, make the salad. Put the oil and lemon juice in a bowl, season and mix well together. Add the lettuce and watercress. Toss together, then divide among 4 serving plates.
    6. Remove the string from the chicken breasts. Cut each breast across into slices, holding it together so it keeps its shape. Place on the salad and garnish with the remaining basil.

    Another idea

    As an alternative to the mozzarella filling, use a mixture of feta cheese and watercress. Soften 1/2 finely chopped red onion in 15 g (½ oz) butter for 3–5 minutes, then add 75 g (2 1/2 oz) watercress sprigs and cook for a further 1 minute or until the watercress has just wilted. Crumble in 100 g (3 1/2 oz) feta cheese, and season with nutmeg and black pepper.

    Plus points

    The Greeks and Romans believed that eating watercress could cure madness. We too attribute healing powers to this green leaf, as it contains powerful phytochemicals that help to protect against cancer. It is also a good source of many B vitamins plus vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. * Mozzarella contains less fat than many other cheeses. For example, 100 g (3 D oz) mozzarella has 21 g fat and 289 kcal, while the same weight of Cheddar has 34 g fat and 412 kcal.

    Each serving provides

    B6 * A, B12, C, niacin, calcium, iron * B1, B2, E, folate, copper, potassium, zinc

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    Reviews in English (4)


    Used different ingredients. Great recipe, i stuffed the chicken with garlic spinich and ricotta cheese then swapped the parma ham for panchetta. My friends loved it!!  -  05 Jan 2010


    very tasty the whole family liked this, next time will try using philly cheese instead of mozzarella.  -  27 Mar 2013


    Tasted lovely though chicken turned out a little dry. Would add a little more oil or cover with foil next time  -  26 Jun 2010