Cheesy Chicken

Cheesey Chicken-2

Cheesy Chicken

The first time I made this I just piled everything into a baking dish. Popped it in the oven and set the timer so dinner cooked itself while the boys and I went for a walk to the dam.

So easy!

The only trick was I didn’t take the timer with me so we had to guess when we needed to be home.

Luckily we made it! But next time I’ll use the timer on my phone 🙂

As always just use the recipe as a starting place. Make it your own with inspiration from the variations below.

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes
net carbs: 15g per serve

4 medium zucchini (800g / 28oz)
4 chicken thigh fillets (450g /1lb)
1/2 cup tomato passata or puree
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
150g (5oz) grated cheese
1 bunch coriander (cilantro) or parsley

1. Turn your oven on to 250C (480F). Slice zucchini into rounds about 1cm (1/2in) thick and place in a baking tray.

2. Chop chicken thighs into 2 pieces and place on top of the zucchini. Mix tomato and paprika (if using) and pour sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.

3. When the timer goes, scatter the cheese over the top of the chicken and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

4. Serve with coriander / parsley leaves sprinkled over.

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Variations & Substitutions

pantry-friendly – zucchini = frozen broccoli or frozen cauliflower or sweet potato. Skip coriander / cilantro.

no smoked paprika – it’s lovely without. Or you can replace with ground cumin or coriander.

hot! – add a little dried chilli powder or fresh chopped chilli to the tomato. If you have some chipotle chilli in adobo sauce, definitely use them! Or serve with your fave hot sauce.

keto / ultra low carb – skip the tomato. replace 1/2 the zucchini with baby spinach leaves added at the end. Reduce the cheese. Serve with mayo or aioli.

vegetarian – replace chicken with cooked mushrooms, chickpeas, black beans or lentils. Tempeh or tofu is another option.

dairy-free – skip the cheese and serve roast chicken and veg with a tasty sauce like mayo, Brazil Nut ‘Parmesan’ or smashed avocado & lime. Or cashew sour cream or almond hummus.

more substantial (carb lovers) – roast sweet potato or other root veg separately. Or serve with corn chips, warm tortillas, pasta, buttered chickpeas, rice or pita.

more substantial (low carb) – serve with sour cream or avocado smashed with lime and salt. Or these zucchini tortillas. Or roast nuts.

different vegetables – bell peppers (capsicum), eggplant, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli or finely sliced onion are all great! If you want to use root veg, cook them separately or add them to the pan and roast for 15-20 minutes to give them a head start before adding the zucchini. Leafy greens (cooked separately) or salad leaves can give a nice boost. I usually add a big scoop of home made sauerkraut for a little probiotic crunch.

different protein – sausages, chicken breast fillets, ham, cooked chickpeas, cooked black beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

zucchini – will keep for 2 weeks or longer in a plastic bag in the fridge. To keep it even longer, cook sliced zucchini in a little butter until just soft then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

chicken thigh fillets – freeze them.

tomato passata or puree / smoked paprika – keep them in the pantry.

cheese – most hard and melting cheeses will keep for weeks wrapped in waxed paper or baking paper and stored in an airtight container (or sealed ziplock bag) in the fridge. If you need to store for longer cheese can be frozen.

coriander – best to use for another meal. Can be frozen but will wilt when defrosted.

Problem Solving Guide

bland – more salt or more cheese. Hot sauce!

watery – if the pan is too small and the food is crowded the steam from the zucchini won’t escape and you’ll end up with a lot of liquid in the bottom of the pan. You can either just drain it off and discard or stir in some almond meal or breadcrumbs to thicken or put the pan back in the oven (minus the chicken) for another 10 minutes.

too dry – overcooked! Next time check earlier or use a lower temp. For now a dollop of mayonnaise, hummus or a drizzle of olive oil will help.

tough chicken – another over cooking symptom. For now just slice it finely so it’s easier to chew but next time check earlier or use a lower temp.

burnt edges – the risk with super high temperature cooking like this is the edges get burned before the middle is done. The solution is to stir next time. For now, just discard any bits that are too far gone.

no oven – pan fry the chicken and zucchini separately then serve with lots of grated parmesan instead of the melting cheese.

Prepare Ahead

Yes! Just cook as per recipe but keep the herbs separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a week or can be frozen. To serve, warm in the oven or in a frying pan with a little oil – will look messy but still delicious!

Cheesey Chicken-3
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  • Ohmigosh, I made this last night and it was fabulous. I had a few low carb potatoes with the zucchini in the bottom, which I sprinkled with a bit of veggie stock powder. Then chicken breast cut into pieces. I used tomato paste which I mixed with a little white wine and paprika, spread that over the chicken with a couple of slices of fresh tomato. Baked that, and then added a layer of greens and herbs out of the garden, baby spinach, basil and oregano, sprinkled with cheese and baked a few minutes more. This is definitely a keeper.

  • I wasn’t going to cook tonight, but had a large zucchini, capsicum and potato left over that hadn’t fitted into the last thing I cooked, plus two chicken thigh fillets in the freezer (and a tin of chick peas), and this recipe was on last week’s meal plan. I went Mediterranean for the flavourings with dried basil and oregano in place of the spice, and about 50/50 feta and Parmesan for the cheese.

    The only problem was the amount of liquid remaining in the bottom of the pan, a problem that I also have with Jules’ Chicken and “Peppers” recipe. Admittedly I used a whole tin of tomatoes rather than having a jar of passata minus half a cup to use up later, but the result didn’t seem to be over-tomatoey, just too wet. I reduced the liquid in a separate pan and put it in with the leftovers. Otherwise, it was a good, easy meal.

    • Excellent work on the substitutions Mark!

      If you’re getting too much liquid at the bottom of the pan it means the pwn was too crowded so you didn’t get the evaporation you would get in a larger pan.

      The surface area / space between the ingredients makes a huge difference to how much liquid is left at the end.

      So next time use a larger tray / pan or just be prepared to simmer as you did.

      This is great!

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