Sheet Pan Chicken Parm Orzo and Garlic Spinach
Why we love it:
- 11⁄2 pounds Chicken Breast (boneless skinless)
- 1 Egg
- 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs (panko bread crumbs)
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano or italian seaoning
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt (divided)
- 1 15-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
- 8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella
- 1⁄2 cup Parmesan Cheese (divided)
- 1 package Orzo Pasta
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (divided)
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
- 10 ounces Baby Spinach (2 smaller bags or 1 of the “family size”, if buying in bulk, its most of a 2 produce bag stuffed full)
- 2 cloves Garlic (sliced)
- 1 Lemon
Bring a large pasta pot of water to a boil and add 1 Tbsp of salt. When it boils, cook the orzo according to the package directions (probably 11 minutes) then drain it and add the pasta back to the pot.
Heat oven to 450.
Place an empty baking sheet (with rimmed sides) in the middle of the oven while it preheats
Are your chicken breasts huge? Ideally for 1.5 lb of chicken, you should have at least 4 pieces. If you have fewer than that, cut them in half, mimicking the natural shape of the breast – slice on a gentle angle into 2 pieces.
Place chicken on a clean work surface and sprinkle evenly with 1 tsp of salt. In a bowl whisk the egg with 1 Tbsp water. Place the breadcrumbs in a casserole dish or a plate and stir in 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of dried italian seasoning.
Set up a clean plate or dish to catch the breaded chicken.
Dip each breast piece in the egg, turn to coat, then press into the breadcrumb pan. Press gently to get the breading to adhere evenly. Move to the reserved pan and repeat with the rest.
Once the oven has been fully preheated for at least 5 minutes, carefully remove the pan from the oven.
Add 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of olive oil butter directly to it and swirl to melt. Use tongs to place the chicken pieces on the pan, swipe them through the fat just a bit before letting them settle in place. Try to ultimately have all of the oil and melted butter directly underneath all of the pieces of chicken. Retur pan to the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes. And prep the sauce and cheese while it cooks.
3. SAUCE AND CHEESE
Open the can of tomatoes and stir ½ tsp salt directly into it. Slice the cheese thinly.
4. FLIP CHICKEN
After the first 12 minutes in the oven, divide 1 Tablespoon of butter into small slices. Pull the pan out and dab each piece of chicken with a slice and flip the chicken, letting the butter land underneath.
Return to the oven and cook for 8 minutes.
When ready, pull the chicken out of the oven and spoon the sauce over top of each piece – I like to keep it a little thicker in the center so you can see the edges of the meat, but you could also completely smother with sauce.
Top each piece with as much mozzarella feels good to you. Return to the oven on the top rack this time, and bake until the chicken is cooked through and cheese is lightly browned and melty – about 4-6 more minutes.
During the chicken’s final cooking time, heat your largest skillet over medium high and add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil. Slice the cloves of garlic thinly and add them. Let them cook and sizzle until they’re just a little golden brown.
Add in all of the spinach at once. If you’ve washed it first, its helpful actually if some water is clinging to it. If you had triple washed, you don’t need to wash it again.
As it cooks down, add a generous pinch of salt. Zest the lemon over the pan, then slice the lemon. Add the juice of half of the lemon.
Toss the leaves in the pan to wilt about 80% dark green and visibly cooked. As soon as its at this point, I remove from the heat. The remaining leaves will keep cooking off the stove but the leaves won’t turn army green (aka overcooked).
Last step is to stir the last Tablespoon of butter and 1 tsp olive oil into the orzo.
Give it a pinch of salt and stir to taste. Add about ¼ cup of parmesan and toss.
Plate the orzo with spinach on the side. Top with a chicken breast and sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the whole thing.