Sounds fancy, huh? But really, it is so easy to pull together that Feta & Pine Nut Stuffed Chicken can be a weeknight dinner. The saltiness of the feta cheese and the smoothness of the pine nuts creates such a beautiful combination that is so satisfying. I serve the chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce and am nearly transported to the Mediterranean!
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How to toast the pine nuts
A huge flavor boost comes from toasting the pine nuts. This can be done in a number of ways, but I find that using a small cast-iron skillet is the easiest way. I can control the amount of "toast" better than doing it in the oven. I simply shake and toss the skillet every few seconds
Saute some onions and garlic, then add fresh dill, lemon zest, and crumbled feta cheese.
What is feta cheese? Can I substitute something else?
Feta cheese is a Greek white cheese made from either sheep's or goat's milk, or a combination of the two. It is brined and has no rind. The longer it is brined, the sharper and saltier it becomes. It's usually used in Greek salads and in pastries like spanakopita. If you can't find feta cheese, a close substitute would be goat cheese.
Mix the onion mixture with chopped spinach. Be sure to squeeze the water out of the spinach before adding it to the skillet or your whole dish will be watery.
Now comes the fun part - stuffing the chicken.
Then it's a matter of spooning the filling onto the chicken and rolling it up.
I secure the rolls with toothpicks to keep them intact during baking.
Oil a baking dish and set the chicken in toothpick side up. Drizzle a bit more oil over the chicken before baking.
It's a quick 20-30 minutes in the oven while you make some rice or vegetables (or both) and melt some butter with lemon juice to serve on the chicken. And if you have leftover filling, save it to put in an omelet tomorrow morning!
My husband doesn't like spinach and he loves this dish!
Other recipes you might like:
- Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Compote
- Charred Lemon Caper Brussels Sprouts
- Sauteed Garlic Green Beans
- Fennel Braised Sausages
Feta & Pine Nut Stuffed Chicken
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- Oil for sauteeing
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic chopped small
- 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 4 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- 2 Tablespoons fresh dill minced
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- ½ cup butter
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wipe a baking dish with oil and set aside.
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium high heat till they are golden and fragrant, shaking the skillet occasionally.
- Heat a medium saute pan to medium high. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil, then the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and heat 30 seconds. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until warmed through, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, feta, fresh dill, and pine nuts. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally. Working with one at a time, place chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound chicken breasts thin, ⅓-½ inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
- To stuff, scoop about 3 Tablespoons of the stuffing into the center of the chicken breast. Use less if the chicken is small. Roll them up, using toothpicks to secure them closed. Place toothpick side up in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over each chicken breast before placing the in the oven.
- Bake 20-30 minutes until the juices run clear.
- Mix the lemon juice and butter and pour over the chicken to serve.
- Suggested accompaniments: rice, roasted potatoes, sauteed vegetables