Primavera stuffed chicken is a delicious and healthy dish that is perfect for any occasion. This dish is made with zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, and red onion, which are stuffed inside a chicken breast. However, you can incorporate any of your favorite vegetables, too.
The chicken is then topped with mozzarella cheese and baked in the oven to perfection. And the result is a flavorful, vibrant, and juicy chicken that is sure to impress.
Why This Works
- Protein and nutrient-rich entree that goes with a variety of sides such as bread, rice, and potatoes
- Great way to eat veggies for someone who dislikes raw veggies
- No special equipment needed
- Make a larger batch for leftovers
- Use pre-sliced vegetables for convenience
- Great recipe for using up fresh veggies before they turn
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Ingredients and Nutrition
This stuffed primavera chicken recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken breast for convenient meal prep. If you prefer to use chicken thighs, see the Variations section for more information.
Versatile and affordable, especially when on sale, chicken breast boasts the following nutrients :
- Protein: A 3-oucnce serving (about 85 grams) of cooked boneless skinless chicken breast provides 26 grams of protein.
- Selenium: A mineral that aids the immune system and helps prevent cellular damage in the body.
- Phosphorus: Important for bones and teeth, this mineral also supports muscles and nerves and helps make energy and protein.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Involved in nearly 200 chemical reactions in the body, this vitamin plays a vital role in brain development and oxygen transportation.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): This B vitamin helps maintain healthy skin and digestive and nervous systems. It also converts carbs into energy.
As mentioned, this primavera stuffed chicken recipe incorporates squash, zucchini, tomato, and red onion. But you could add other veggies, too, such as bell peppers or carrots. See the Variations section for more suggestions.
Eating vegetables provides several health benefits. Vegetables contain fiber and many nutrients such as vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. However, many Americans don’t get enough of these nutrients in their diet, according to research .
Fiber offers many benefits including maintaining a healthy digestive system, keeping blood sugars in check, and adding satiety to meals.
People who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables probably don’t get enough potassium. This important mineral helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and regulates fluid balance in the body. It also supports muscle and nerve function.
Additionally, we need many other nutrients to support total body health. In particular, vitamins A and C which vegetables offer, both support the immune system and skin.
Vitamin A also plays a role in bone development and vision health. Lastly, the body needs vitamin C to form blood vessels and cartilage. It also aids in wound healing.
While you can prepare vegetables in different ways, one way to help increase your intake of them is to cook them in the oven.
Some people find the taste of raw veggies off-putting. As such, cooking or roasting them in the oven is worth experimenting with as this helps bring out some of their natural sweetness and tone down their bitter taste.
Oven cooking also changes vegetables’ texture, making them crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You may find the texture more appealing compared to their raw texture.
Mild and creamy in flavor, mozzarella cheese pairs well with many ingredients including chicken and vegetables.
Like other cheeses, this all-purpose cheese also supplies protein and calcium. But compared to other cheeses, mozzarella cheese contains less sodium.
- Olive oil
- Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- Optional parsley for garnish
First, make sure your oven rack is at the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, place your vegetables on a cutting board and slice them into quarter-inch slices.
I happened to have leftover squash and zucchini that were pre-sliced lengthwise. Feel free to use up any leftover veggies if you’d like!
Next, place the chicken on a cutting board and pat it dry with a paper towel. Use a chef’s knife to cut the breast three-quarters of the way. Make the cuts about a half-inch apart, making sure not to cut all the way through.
To prevent cutting the chicken all the way, you can straddle the chicken lengthwise with chopsticks or a similar item if you’d like. The chopsticks will stop the knife from going all the way through the chicken.
Drizzle a little olive oil on an oven-safe baking dish or grease the dish with some butter. Then transfer the chicken to the baking dish.
Stuff each chicken slit with alternating veggie slices. Depending on how thin the vegetables are sliced, you may be able to stuff two veggie slices in a slit.
Drizzle the assembled chicken with olive oil and top with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Bake uncovered for a total cooking time of 25 minutes.
Halfway through baking, carefully take the dish out of the oven and top it with mozzarella cheese. The dish is still hot, so use your oven mitts to return the dish to the oven and continue baking.
When the cooking timer goes off, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken. The chicken is fully cooked when the temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove the dish from the oven and let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Letting any cooked meat rest after cooking keeps it moist and flavorful.
Finally, top the chicken with optional parsley and serve with a side dish of your choice. See FAQ for side dish ideas.
Variations of Primavera Stuffed Chicken
1. Change up the vegetables
Plenty of other vegetables also work well in this recipe. Here are some other ideas:
- Bell peppers add a slightly sweet and tender texture.
- Mushrooms lend a savory and meaty flavor.
- Use fresh spinach leaves for a pop of color and added nutrition.
- Chopped canned or marinated artichokes add a tangy flavor and a tender texture.
- Asparagus imparts a bright and earthy undertone.
- Eggplant absorbs seasonings with their spongy texture.
- Radishes mellow out when cooked and retain a mild hint of their original spice.
- Shredded or julienned carrots offer a sweet and crunchy texture.
- Try different tomatoes such as cherry tomatoes for a burst of sweetness or sun-dried tomatoes for a more concentrated tomato flavor.
2. Use different cheeses
The recipe typically calls for mozzarella cheese, but you can use other types of cheese like feta, goat cheese, or even blue cheese for a more robust flavor.
Another way to incorporate cheese is to stuff the chicken slits with cheese slices like Swiss or provolone.
3. Add different herbs, spices, and condiments
Several spice combinations pair well with chicken, depending on the type of flavors you’re going for. Here are some ways to punch up the flavor.
- Garlic and onion: Use these two seasoning together or separately to add depth of flavor. Consider using garlic powder or fresh minced garlic, and onion powder or sliced onions.
- Herbs de Provence: This multipurpose blend of dried herbs commonly used in French cuisine, includes basil, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, savory, tarragon, and thyme.
- Lemon pepper: This seasoning blend includes lemon zest and black pepper and would add a bright, zesty flavor.
- Paprika: This seasoning adds a smoky flavor and a beautiful red color to dishes.
- Add a little heat to the dish with red pepper flakes or jalapeno.
- Olives: Try tucking in some chopped kalamata or green olives in between the chicken slices for a salty, briny flavor.
- Garnish with basil or cilantro instead of parsley.
4. Experiment with a sauce
You can add a sauce to accompany the stuffed chicken, such as pesto, tomato-based sauce, lemon-butter sauce, or garlic-butter sauce.
Alternatively, you can drizzle some balsamic glaze over the chicken before serving it for a sweet and tangy flavor.
5. Change up the chicken or try another protein
Chicken thighs are a little more flavorful and tender compared to the chicken breast because of their higher fat content.
Generally smaller in size compared to chicken breast, chicken thighs work best in this recipe if you make a pocket-like slit inside the thigh. Stuff the chicken pocket with your choice of finely chopped veggies and shredded cheese. They will cook the same way as the chicken breast in this recipe.
Another popular way to enjoy this dish is in a stuffed chicken roll. Flatten chicken with a rolling pin or mallet and add chopped vegetables and cheese to the middle. Roll up the chicken with the stuffing secured inside with a toothpick and bake as you would with this recipe.
Nonetheless, if you’re not a fan of chicken, try other proteins like turkey or pork tenderloin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Look at the color. Raw chicken color varies from bright pink to yellow, with a glossy and slimy tone. White-colored meat with no pink or red color indicates a thoroughly cooked chicken.
For a simple side dish, add bread or rolls to the meal.
You can also place the chicken on top of rice, quinoa, or pasta as well as corn or peas. These foods will soak up the juicy flavors, too.
If you have some leftover sliced vegetables or any other veggies on hand, you may wish to roast them alongside the chicken.
As an alternative to the above-mentioned starches, try roasting chopped potato alongside the chicken. Or try this make-ahead flavorful and customizable potato salad recipe.
A simple side salad will also work if you want more vegetables.
This particular stuffed chicken dish may be frozen. However, the veggies may not taste as good as when the dish is freshly cooked.
Consider the rolled version if you’d like a stuffed chicken recipe for freezing.
Recipes that have stuffing in the center of the chicken tend to freeze better than recipes that have stuffing on top of the chicken. The stuffing in the center is protected by the chicken and tends to stay moist, whereas the stuffing on top can become dry and unappetizing when reheated.
Easy Primavera Stuffed Chicken with Variations
- 1 chef knife
- 1 cutting board
- measuring spoons
- 1 baking dish
- 1 meat thermometer
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ½ medium zucchini
- ½ medium yellow squash
- ½ red onion
- ½ large tomato or 1 medium-sized tomato
- olive oil for drizzling (about 2 tbsp divided)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or to taste
- ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper or to taste
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Optional: chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Make sure your oven rack is placed at the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400℉. While the oven is preheating, prepare the vegetables. Slice them into ¼-inch slices and place them aside.
- Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board lengthwise and dry them with a paper towel. Make cuts into the chicken, about three-quarters of the way, making sure not to cut all the way through. Make these cuts about every ½-inch of the chicken breasts. You don't have to cut into the ends or tips of the chicken that are too small.
- Grease an oven-safe baking dish with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the chicken in the dish and stuff each chicken slit with a slice or two of vegetables, alternating the vegetables for visual appeal.
- Drizzle the chicken with about a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Place the prepared chicken dish uncovered in the oven and bake for a total of 25 minutes.
- About halfway through baking, carefully pull the dish out of the oven and top the chicken with mozzarella cheese. Use your oven mitts to place the dish back in the oven to finish baking.
- When the timer goes off, check to see if the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Pull the dish out of the oven and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken meat. The chicken is done cooking when it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165℉.
- Once the chicken is fully baked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Top with optional chopped fresh parsley.
Tried this recipe? What variations or adaptations did you make? Share in the comments.
2 thoughts on “Easy Primavera Stuffed Chicken with Variations”
Great recipe, looks so delicious!