Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole

Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole - After Oven Zoom 1

My big trip is in one week, which means I am totally unprepared.

How unprepared, you ask?  Do not underestimate my powers of procrastination.

  1. I need to buy a few more outfits, and replace my bikinis lost in that hooker-storm Sandy.
  2. I need to pack those outfits, then inevitably not have enough room in my suitcase and need to repack again… and again.
  3. At some point a mani/pedi will be squeezed in, and I will surely be fidgeting the entire time.
  4. And finally, there’s the ultimate joy of female maintenance – waxing.
sauteeing the shallots

sautéing the shallots

How can someone mismanage months of time so grossly?  I’m a master of chaos, I suppose.

My day-to-day existence is basically one giant, self-manufactured race against time.  Like my habit of using the snooze button waaayyy too liberally, leaving me in a constant rush to get to work.  Or when I take too long at the gym, then need to scramble to make dinner before 10:00pm.  Or how I leave my dry-cleaning until the day before I need something, then end up begging my cleaners for expedited service (again).

spinach + shallots

spinach + shallots

Is there a method to my madness?  Not that I’m aware of.  Am I the lamest adrenaline junky alive?  Possibly, as I do feel an odd sense of satisfaction from slithering my way into the subway just as the doors are closing.  Will I ever change my unnecessary drama?  Meh, I’ll figure it out tomorrow.

In the meantime, somewhere amidst my peculiar balance of procrastination and productivity, meals need to be made.  And since timing clearly isn’t my thing, it’s best for weeknight meals to be ultra attainable.  Ultra easy, yet ultra healthy & flavorful too.

Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole is just that meal.

mixing in the pecorino & ricotta

mixing in the pecorino & ricotta

The inspiration for this recipe was my Parmigiano Spinach Dip from a few months back.  I love the combination of spinach & cheese (duh) so I figured throwing some meat into the mix would make the perfect one-dish dinner.  I deviated from my dip slightly, replacing parmigiano and fat-free cream cheese with pecorino and fat-free ricotta.  But beyond my formaggio tweaks, the core elements stayed the same: shallots, spinach, EVOO & lemon juice.  All that was left to do was add pre-cooked chicken, and before I knew it a full-blown meal was born.

last step! adding the chicken

last step! adding the chicken

The key ingredient in this recipe is pre-cooked chicken.  Whether it’s leftovers hanging around your fridge or purchasing something like Perdue Short Cuts (what I used!), not having to cook your protein is a serious timesaver.  I gradually incorporated my ingredients into the sautéed shallots & spinach, then transferred my mixture to a baking dish for a finishing stint in the oven.  In just 30 minutes, my ultra easy dinner was ready to be devoured.

So for all you last-minute chicks like me, Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole is the in-a-pinch dinner you’ve been waiting for.  Creamy and savory, this dish hits the mark – stacked nutrition, amazing flavor, and quick preparation.  If only my time-management skills could be this efficient!

Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Pre-Cooked Chicken (I used Perdue Short Cuts)
  • 2 cups Chopped Frozen Spinach
  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Ricotta
  • 3/4 cup Shredded Pecorino
  • 1 cup Diced Shallots
  • 2 tsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsps Whole Wheat Panko Crumbs (I used Ian’s)
  • 2 tbsps Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 tsps Crushed or Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt & Coarse Black Peppercorn – approx.

Directions:

  1. In large skillet saute shallots in EVOO over medium high heat. As shallots become translucent, add in frozen spinach, lemon juice, garlic, and salt & pepper, stirring thoroughly.
  2. Once spinach is softened (~5 min), stir in ricotta and 2/3 cup pecorino, combining well. When cheese is well mixed, finally add in chicken, stirring for 2 minutes before removing from heat.
  3. Transfer chicken mixture into oven-safe dish, distributing evenly. Top with remaining pecorino, then panko crumbs. Bake at 400F for 15minutes until bubbly and crisp, then immediately plate and serve.

 

Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole - Served 1

 

 

Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole - Plated ZoomJPG 1

 

 

Pecorino & Spinach Chicken Casserole - Plated Profile 1

 

Now it’s time to pack… in like a day or so 😉