Cheese-stuffed salsa chicken- a super easy, healthy, and delicious entree to serve with steamed veggies and creamy Mexican risotto or brown rice!
Growing up, my family spent every other summer in Colorado for my parent’s month-long work conference. For the kids, it was a sweet deal since it meant our weekdays were filled with soccer camps, tennis camps, and ice skating camps while our parents worked. During the weekends, we hiked in the Rockies, rafted down the Colorado River, and took family trips to the zoo, the big library, the farm, and the pool.
A fanny pack AND a bike helmet #toocoolforschool
As my siblings and I got older and started having sports practices during the summertime, getting jobs and internships, and having more commitments back home, our summers in Colorado had to come to an end, but I’ll always have great memories from those years.
If you made it through that littletrip down memory lane (we’re officially friends now, by the way), you may be wondering how in the world summers in Colorado could possibly relate to this cheese-stuffed salsa chicken recipe.
Well, every summer there, we shopped at an awesome health food store called Wild Oats, similar to Whole Foods. [Colorado natives, do any of you shop there?] The store gave out recipe cards (plus a ridiculous amount of samples, score) every week and I loved to cook even back then, so my mom and I would try out different recipes together. One of my favorite recipes was for this cheese-stuffed salsa chicken and 10 or 12 years later, it’s still part of our family’s dinner rotation. And every time, it still reminds me of Colorado.
Here’s what you’ll need: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cheddar cheese (any sliced kind will work), your favorite salsa, olive oil, salt & pepper, and fresh or dried cilantro. Simple ingredients for a super easy recipe!
Here’s a handy dandy step-by-step:*Step 1 should say 1/4 inch thick.
You can serve the stuffed chicken with a salad or steamed veggies and rice. I usually make plain brown rice, but to jazz things up, I made a Mexican “risotto” type of rice this time. I didn’t use the traditional method of making risotto, which involves slowly adding wine and broth to Arborio rice just a splash at a time, while constantly stirring the rice for 20 minutes or so, and then stirring in cheese and/or cream at the end.
Instead, I cooked 2 cups of brown rice (more fiber and nutrients than white varieties!), and then added a dollop of Greek yogurt for creaminess, a sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese, a big spoonful of salsa, a splash of almond milk, a cup of black beans for extra protein, and a dash of cayenne pepper for some heat. So, really, it’s a “faux-risotto” but its taste and creaminess rivaled any traditional risotto I’ve had.
Cheese-Stuffed Salsa Chicken and Mexican Risotto
For the Chicken
- 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 ounces each)
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 3 ounces sliced cheddar cheese
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup of your favorite salsa
- Chopped fresh cilantro or dried cilantro
For the Mexican Risotto
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese
- 3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- A splash of almond milk, as needed for creaminess
- 1 cup cooked black beans
For the Chicken
- Heat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 8x8 inch or 9x9 inch baking dish.
- Using a rolling pin or meat pounder, flatten each chicken breast to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut cheese into 4 slices and put one slice of cheese on center of each chicken breast. Roll chicken around cheese, folding in sides. Lay chicken breasts in pan, seam side down and drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the chicken breasts.
- Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until no longer pink in center.
- Top chicken with salsa and sprinkle cilantro on top. Return to oven for 5 more minutes to warm salsa. Serve with brown rice or Mexican risotto.
For the Mexican Risotto
- Cook brown rice according to package directions. Stir in salsa and Monterey Jack cheese and keep on medium-low heat until cheese melts. Add Greek yogurt, cayenne pepper, and a splash of almond milk for creaminess. Stir in black beans and keep on low heat until serving.
Nutrition info for 1 stuffed chicken breast
Calories: 270 Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 5g Carbs: 3g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 2g Protein: 35g
Nutrition info for 1 serving of risotto (about 1 cup)
Calories: 260 Fat: 4g Saturated Fat: 2g Carbs: 44g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 2g Protein: 12g