Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Noodles

If you've read this blog at all, I'm sure you know I think fad diets are a crock. Especially that low-carb one. It's simply not good for you to cut out a major food group and carbs can be incredibly nutritious if you eat the right ones!

But if you have gestational diabetes like my good friend Alicia (whose little boy is due in 5 weeks!), you have to watch your carb intake. So it was my challenge to cook something relatively low carb for her to enjoy (while still being very filling, delicious, and nutritious!).

I decided to make a baked chicken parmesan, which is simply a chicken breast pounded thin and coated with panko breadcrumbs and served over pasta. But instead of actual pasta I used thin slices of zucchini and yellow squash to make fettuccine "noodles."

I used the julienne attachment on my mandoline, which worked like a charm (my mandoline was the cheapest $10 version I could find at Target). If you don't have a mandoline, you could use a vegetable peeler to get thin ribbons of zucchini papardelle noodles or just use your knife to cut thin slices of zucchini. Discard the seedy centers of the zucchini (bonus points if you can find some other creative use for them).

I just briefly sauteed the zucchini noodles in a teensy bit of olive oil until they were al dente. Served with a simple tomato sauce flavored with homemade pesto, these healthy veggie noodles were the perfect bed for the crispy and delicious baked chicken breasts.

Try substituting something unexpected and healthy like zucchini next time you're making pasta! You might be surprised at how much you like it.

Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Noodles
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, pounded to an even thinness
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten with some water
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp pesto (or just fresh chopped basil leaves)
4 zucchini, sliced into noodles (with mandoline or knife)
2 yellow squash, sliced into noodles (with mandoline or knife)
grated or sliced cheese (I used provolone, but fresh mozzarella would be great)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Create a breading assembly line for your thinly pounded chicken breasts. On one plate, mix together flour with some salt and pepper. On the second plate, beat your egg with a splash of water. On the third plate, mix together your panko and grated parmesan.

Coat your chicken in the flour, then egg, then panko, and put on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle top of chicken with a bit more olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway. During the last 3-4 minutes, add grated provolone (or fresh mozzarella slices) and bake or broil until cheese is bubbly.

While chicken is baking, make your tomato sauce. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute your onion in olive oil with some salt and pepper about 7-8 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add can of tomatoes and use wooden spoon to crush into a saucy consistency. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes while your chicken bakes. In the last minute, remove sauce from heat and add tomato paste and pesto.

In another medium skillet over medium-high heat, add a tiny bit of olive oil. Add your zucchini noodles and a pinch of salt and cook until hot.

Mix a little sauce with your zucchini noodles. Add your baked chicken breast and a bit more sauce. Serve immediately.

TWO YEARS AGO: Cold-Press Coffee


  1. I like the idea although I doubt my husband would be on board with the substitution so I'll have to try it out when I'm on my own for a couple days. As for the zucchini centers, maybe throw them in a bag in the freezer for the next time you're making soup?

  2. I can't believe this was a year ago already!! Alicia