Sometimes, things happen for a reason. This was the case for an unsuspecting box of rice cereal I had ready and waiting in the cupboard for my son Isaiah’s morning breakfast routine. I had been thinking about a gluten-free replacement for breadcrumbs without the prep of toasting gluten-free bread at a low temperature for at least an hour, letting it cool completely and finally grinding it into crumbs in my food processor.
Then it struck me that cereal absorbs liquid just like breadcrumbs. I took the cereal box out of the cupboard, filled a Ziploc bag with rice cereal, took my rolling pin and crushed it into crumbs in just seconds. Even though I can now find gluten-free breadcrumbs at the supermarket, it’s cheaper and faster to still make my own.
In this easy weeknight chicken braciola recipe, I use breadcrumbs to absorb extra moisture from the vegetables in the stuffing and give it a bit of crunch. While my Italian relatives taught me to make braciola with beef, I lighted up this classic by using chicken instead. You can swap in any seasonal vegetables and if you want to cut down on prep time, go ahead and use store-bought pasta sauce.
Chicken Vegetable Braciola With Red Pepper Sauce
This recipe is featured in the latest issue of Easy Eats magazine.
Prep Time: 18 min
Cook Time: 46 min
For the sauce:
¼ olive oil
2 teaspoons salt-packed capers—rinsed, drained and patted dry
2 teaspoons tomato paste
4 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into ¼ inch strips
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
For the braciola:
½ cup finely crushed rice cereal, such as Erewhon or Kellogg’s
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese or dairy-free alternative (optional)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for rubbing
Four (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded about ¼ inch thick
Salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into thin matchsticks
8 basil leaves, chopped
To make the sauce: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the capers and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and cook until tender, about 10 minutes; season with about ½ teaspoon salt. Add about three-quarters of the peppers and ¼ cup water to a blender and puree until smooth.
To make the braciola: Preheat the oven to 400º. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed cereal, parsley, parmesan, garlic, egg and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
On a work surface, rub the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Leaving a ¼-inch border, layer each piece of chicken with some roasted pepper and zucchini strips, basil and crumb mixture. Roll up, jelly-roll style, to enclose the filling, then secure with toothpicks.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Spoon the remaining peppers with sauce over the chicken rolls and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
Silvana Nardone is a food lifestyle expert, magazine editor and motivational speaker. She is the editor-in-chief of the all-digital, gluten-free magazine, Easy Eats. Silvana is also the author of Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals and publisher of Silvana’s Kitchen, a blog that takes the guesswork out of how to feed a family with food allergies. Previously, she was the founding editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray.