Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan

Looking for a quick, easy, healthy dinner? Look no further than this baked chicken parm! The Italian staple is lightened up with reduced fat cheese and no frying involved. Serve alongside steamed or roasted veggies for a perfect, balanced meal!

One of the best* things about going to school in gorgeous Charlottesville, VA was all the food.

*Best was OBVIOUSLY having 20+ vineyards/breweries within a ten mile radius… priorities. I guess UVA is ok too?? idk

Rumor has it that Charlottesville has the highest number of restaurants per capita of any city in the US! Even just on my walk from my apartment to class I would pass venues boasting Thai food, Mediterranean cuisine, DUMPLINGS, American fare, PIZZA, and so much more.

And don’t even get me started on the bagels. Bodo’s, you will eternally hold the number one spot in my heart. My apologies to whatever man I end up marrying; hope you’re fine with playing second fiddle, babe.

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Ben, you’ve never looked so good 😉

However, there were some nights when the restaurants on ‘The Corner’ (the main strip right by UVA grounds) simply were not options. Read: when my friends and/or I needed to avoid seeing EVERYONE WE KNEW.

Perhaps someone had a lengthy walk of shame home, dressed in a cat costume. Or maybe someone had a regrettable DFMO on a table at a crowded bar. Or, maybe we just didn’t feel like putting on pants/makeup/our right shoe. It happens.

In these times of need, my roommates and I would find solace in a little Italian restaurant that was a 20-minute drive away – Vinny’s. Home of unlimited garlic bread and the world’s best chicken parm, this place was our saving grace. We could gossip loudly without worrying that classmates/ex’s/entire fraternities would hear us! If that’s not heaven, I don’t know what is.

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Vinny’s was also adjacent to the nearest Target, and sometimes shenanigans would ensue. I regret nothing.

Now that I’m adult-y and gradumacated and such, I never have days where I’m avoiding people or a hot mess or anything*. Nope nope, that ain’t me. However, I don’t want to live a life without chicken parm! Thus, yesterday I set out to re-create this Vinny’s masterpiece, in a slightly more heathful way. It’s beach season, fam.

*HAHAHAHAHHAHA JOKES

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And, it was actually super easy! I started by gathering my ingredients (for 4 servings):
1 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
– 6 oz fresh mozzarella
– 2 cups pasta sauce
– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– Grated Parmesan cheese
– 1 egg
– Basil leaves, salt, pepper, etc. to taste

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Breading station

Preheat your oven to 475F which is HOT AS HADES, but so are you 😉 so you should be used to it.

I began by slicing each chicken breast in half lengthwise, to create two thinner pieces. Raw meat is gross so I’ll spare you a picture. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Then, I set up my breading station – all-purpose flour, one egg (beaten), and the Italian breadcrumbs. Each piece of chicken was first coated in flour, then in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. When that was done, they looked like this:

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Still raw, less ugly.

I heated a pan over medium-high, then added about 1 T olive oil to coat the pan. I dropped in these babies and cooked about 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy, like so:

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Once both sides are done, I nestled them in an 8×8 casserole dish, and dolloped the pasta sauce over/around the chicken. I sprinkled everything with Parmesan cheese, then topped each piece of chicken with a slice of mozzarella.

Cover that pretty baby with aluminum foil, and stick it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove the foil, and then cook for another 5 minutes, until the mozzarella is bubbly and beautiful. Season however you want, and serve!

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It’s as easy as that! I ate mine with roasted broccoli, but if you want the full Vinny’s experience, go ham with the pasta and garlic bread. You do you!

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For added authenticity, walk of shame in this cat costume first. Ok, fine, I regret everything.

XOXO,
Jesse

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