Well. It’s been an eventful few days for me. You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as frequently the last few weeks, and that’s because I’ve been getting ready to have surgery—on a very short timeframe! I went straight from 4th of July weekend travel in Florida to North Carolina the next day for a surgery consult to frantically getting all the paperwork done, people called, things approved, and work ready for me to leave for a good long time. And this Tuesday morning my mom and I drove up to North Carolina for the surgery. Quite the whirlwind! My surgery was yesterday, I spent the night in the hospital and then we drove back this afternoon. Just got in and we are wiped out!
That’s all to say that while I haven’t been able to post as many recipes here recently, I do have several great ones stockpiled that I’ve tried but haven’t had a chance to write up, and so will be posting these during my recovery, while I’m not able to cook right now (since I can’t stand for a while). And I’ll start with this awesomeness hugged by pastry.
So back in May, I went home to visit my family and we crammed a lot into the weekend—my sister’s college graduation, a bunch of extended family graduations, a Sabbath/holy day combo, plus we decided to go ahead and celebrate my parents’ 30th anniversary since we had all of us together. The only night we had open was when I was flying in, so I got in and started cooking right away. This is the recipe my mom had requested, she’d been wanting to try it for a long time.
It’s called chicken florentine, but I’m not totally sure why. I always thought chicken florentine had, like, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach in it. Whether it’s named appropriately or not, this is absolutely delicious. I’m totally on board with anything that’s wrapped in pastry or pie crust, and the flavors all work really well together. It can be a little labor-intensive if you’re on a tight schedule (which we were) but it’s not difficult at all.
If your puff pastry is frozen (which, let’s face it, it probably is), lay it out on a non-stick surface and thaw for around 20 minutes. Don’t go too much longer than that, you don’t want it to get soggy or it will be hard to work with. It just needs to be thawed enough to unfold it without breakout the pieces, and so you can stretch it at little around the filling.
Sooo…you may realize that your mom doesn’t have creamed spinach, so you have to somehow figure out how to make it from scratch. We sauteed a whole bag of fresh spinach in butter and olive oil, then add some cream as necessary. This was a shocking approximation of creamed spinach—though it was sad how little it yielded from an entire bag of fresh spinach!
In small bowl, combine the creamed spinach, parmesan, chopped pine nuts, chopped basil and garlic.
Finally, brown the chicken breasts in hot butter or olive oil.
To assemble, lay or roll the pastry on a lightly floured or non-stick surface to one large 14-inch square (if you’re doubling the recipe, smoosh the two pastry sheets together). Then cut into four (or eight) 7-inch squares.
Spoon the spinach mixture in the center of each square and top with the chicken breast halves. Then wrap the pastry to enclose the chicken and seal.
Place the pastry packages seam-side down on ungreased baking sheet (I lined mine with foil). Brush them all with egg wash and sprinkle with the additional parmesan.
Bake 20 minutes, or until golden. You have to be careful to find the right “golden” because the yellow-y egg wash makes them already kind of look that way.
Glorious chicken hugged by pastry.
Serve hot, with whatever tickles your fancy. As you can see, we had risotto and asparagus, dinner of champions.
Pastry-Wrapped Chicken Florentine
Makes 3-4 servings; we doubled
- 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
- 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half width-wise
- 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
- 1 package (10 oz) of frozen creamed spinach, thawed
- 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup of chopped toasted pine nuts
- 1-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Preheat oven to 375 F. Thaw pastry for around 20 minutes, or until pastry dough is just thawed enough to unfold and be able to stretch around the filling (don’t let it get soggy!). In medium skillet, brown chicken breasts in the melted butter and set aside.
In small bowl, combine the creamed spinach, parmesan, chopped pine nuts, basil and garlic. Lay or roll the pastry on a lightly floured or non-stick surface to one large 14-inch square (if you’re doubling the recipe, smoosh the two pastry sheets together); cut into four 7-inch squares. Spoon the spinach mixture in the center of each square and top with the chicken breasts. Wrap the pastry to enclose the chicken and seal. Place seam-side down on ungreased baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with the additional parmesan. Bake 20 minutes, or until golden. Makes 4 servings (we doubled).