walnut & spinach crusted chicken with butternut squash mac n’ cheese

15 | July 1, 2010

Since Mia’s growing older and starting her picky period and my husband is in training for yet another marathon season, I am consciously trying to pump up our veggie intake. Even if it means sneaking it into everything we eat. So, don’t be surprised in the coming months if you find more recipes like this these. Serve with some tomatoes and basil and you got yourself a meal! By the way the chicken is awesome. It was inspired by a pecan crusted sea bass I had in when I was 16 at Cafe Pacific. I know I’m bragging but…yum.

Walnut & Spinach Crusted Chicken serves 4

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 cup of panko, japanese bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbs of water (egg white can be substituted)

Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with foil.

Place the spinach in a food processor or blender and pulse 8 to 10 times until spinach becomes chopped in small pieces. Transfer the spinach to a bowl and set aside.

Next, add the walnuts and pulse 6 to 8 times until the walnuts are in tiny pieces.

To the walnuts, return the spinach and add the panko, salt and pepper. Pulse a couple of more times until blended. Transfer the mixture to a plate.

In a small bowl beat the egg and water. Next create a “station” with the plate of chicken, egg wash, walnut mixture and then foil lined pan in a row. Take a breast of chicken and dip in the egg wash. Next, dip that chicken breast in the walnut mixture pressing the coating onto the breast. Once it’s coated on both sides lay on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken. {Notice the 80’s blue counter tops! I’m stylin. Not to fret, a kitchen remodel is in my near future.}

Place pan in oven and bake for 20 minutes.

It is seriously good. Now, while that’s baking throw this cheesy goodness on the stove. This uses butternut squash puree. It is simple to make. Check out this post on how to make butternut squash puree. You can also just roast a squash in the oven: cut open, remove seeds, roast 400° for 50 min, scoop out meat and smash with a fork) If you don’t have butternut squash puree handy in your freezer you can substitute with a can of pumpkin. I have noticed stores carrying butternut squash puree in the freezer section. So, check there first.

Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese* serves 4

  • 2 cups of your favorite small pasta, I’m using Piccolini
  • 1 Tbs of butter
  • 1 Tbs flour
  • 3/4 cup 2% or skim milk
  • 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1 1/2 cup of reduced-fat cheese, monterey jack or cheddar
  • 2 Tbs reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp paprika

*Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese is adapted from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once boiling add pasta and cook until pasta is tender (about 7 to 10 minutes). Strain and set aside.

It’s really simple to make your own cheese sauce! Melt butter over medium low heat in a saucepan and add the flour. Whisk and cook for 2 minutes. It will resemble a paste.

Slowly add milk. Whisk until combined. Next add everything thing else. Stir until combined.

Add sauce to the pasta and stir! Simple and quick. No need for scary powdered cheese with chemicals I can’t pronounce!

Smiling even with a mouth full!


  • Nichole

    Are you kidding me with this meal???
    I JUST did groceries and now I have no choice but to go again because now I HAVE to make this and eat every last bite!

  • Holly

    I thought marathon season just ended a couple months ago?!?!!

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      That’s what I thought but Oh no…it never ends! Now he’s in training! I think he might be crazy.

      • Holly

        Ha.. he is crazy yes… marathons should be a once – if ever – in a lifetime events!

        • In Sock Monkey Slippers

          agreed! That’s a big ol yes in my book. Oh wait this is me we’re talking about. I don’t EVER see a marathon in my future. Yours maybe. I can see that.

  • Jenna

    Hey! I’m linking to your post on my blog, and I’m using the picture from Tasty Kitchen to lure people on over to your post if that’s OK–if not, let me know! Thanks for posting this recipe!

  • Liz

    I’ve been eyeing this chicken recipe for a while and finally made it. Wonderful!

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      I’m so glad you liked it! It’s one of our faves! Thankks for letting me know.

  • Candi

    I made this to take to a family dinner a few weeks ago… It was the only dish empty at the end of the meal and I was asked to make a triple batch for Thanksgiving. This is good made ahead and baked with bread crumbs or crumbled crackers. I just substituted fresh cooked squash boiled in chicken stock (and drained) and then added the remainder of the squash in with the pasta cut into small chunks, why waste? Also I substituted porcini sea salt for regular table salt. Delicious.

  • Stephanie R

    do you think I could swap sweet potato for the squash or not so much??

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