Family-Friendly Recipe: Parmesan Chicken with Arugula

Holly and I are both fans of Ina Garten, and we each came to love this simple recipe on our own. Even our kids enjoy it (sometimes with a slight twist on it…). It’s simple yet tasty. I would even call it ‘elegant.’ I think it’s the arugula that makes this simple dish seem dinner-guest fancy. Arugula, however, is a bitter green and is an acquired taste. If serving this dish to children, you might want to substitute with spring lettuces or baby spinach.

This is Holly. In italics. I’m going to chime in here and there since I have a few things I do differently from Jen to make this “right” for my family. But it says a lot that for the most part, this dish is loved by 4 adults and 5 children with very different palates! At the bottom I’ve added in a few notes about what I do for my 2 girls who don’t love the salad dressing. 

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (For a family of four we generally get 1.5lbs of thinly sliced breasts)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Unsalted butter (We don’t use the butter – we only use olive oil)
  • Good olive oil
  • Arugula or baby lettuce (In these pictures, I made it with spring mix)
  • Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick. I put them between wax paper or saran wrap before I pound them with my meat mallet. Fight the temptation to skip this step as it really makes the chicken tender and helps it cook evenly.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Ina would have you place the greens on top of the chicken, but I’m a little more traditional and do the reverse. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice I find that one ripe lemon suffices – more than a 1/4 cup makes it too tart
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Honey (to taste, cuts bitterness – this is optional and what Jen does for her family)

My girls find the salad dressing too tart and I find ways (that aren’t too taxing!) to make it a favorite for them. Here, as you can see, they’re eating the breaded chicken with pasta – normally I add a veg but I was lazy this evening and had them eat extra fruit. Alternately, we’ve done the following with this dish and it’s always a hit: 

*Made it with gluten free flour and it’s been delicious

*Breaded chicken with veg and pasta

*Chicken parmesan traditional – I take the breaded chicken, add a dollop of marinara, sprinkle with mozzarella and put in the oven until it’s melted, serving with pasta. Always a kid-favorite. 

Adapted from: https://barefootcontessa.com/recipes/parmesan-chicken  Copyright 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved

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Author: Jen

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