I try to keep freezer meals handy at all times in an effort to circumvent the inevitable week that goes awry, and still put a well-rounded dinner on the table.
This Italian Skillet Chicken dinner is a family favorite. Oregano, basil, and garlic season the chicken while grape tomatoes, onion, and olive oil break down to make a rich and fragrant pan sauce.
Pull the whole thing together with a couple of handfuls of spinach and dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes.
THE BEST CHICKEN FOR THIS RECIPE
Use boneless skinless thinly sliced chicken breasts, tenderloins or tenders (depending on how your supermarket labels them). Because they are thin, more of each bite is covered in the marinade and they cook in a fraction of the time it would take to cook a thick chicken breast.
THE BEST PAN TO USE
Use a 12-inch skillet (measured across the top) with high sides to cook this meal. A smaller skillet may not be large enough to fit all of the ingredients.
SWAP OUT THE VEGETABLES
If you make this on a day when you don’t have the suggested vegetables on hand, don’t worry about it. Serve the chicken with a side salad over pasta or with a vegetable of your choice.
HOW TO MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE
To make this meal budget friendly, stock up on chicken when it’s on sale. Take a little time on the weekend to whip up a few marinades, dress the chicken and freeze them in bags. That way they are ready on days when you don’t have extra time to think about dinner.
- Use gallon-size freezer bags that you press to seal rather than those with a zipper slide.
- Write the date, name of the recipe and SimplyRecipes.com so you can easily find the recipe later.
- Add the chicken and marinade ingredients to the bag.
- Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag and close it.
- Smoosh around the chicken until it’s well coated in marinade.
- Lay flat to freeze.
This will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months, and up to 48 hours thawed in the refrigerator.
Not a planner? No biggie!
You could still make this whole dish start to finish in one night and have dinner ready in 40 minutes or less.
LOOKING FOR MORE GREAT FREEZER MEALS?
- Baked Ziti
- BBQ Meatloaf Bites
- Baked Chicken Taquitos
- Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Chili
- Freezer Breakfast Burritos with Sausage, Eggs, and Salsa Verde
Italian Skillet Chicken with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Onions Recipe
For the marinade
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenders, tenderloin, or thinly sliced chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from about 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the vegetables
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 large handfuls spinach, about 2 packed cups
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Crusty bread, to serve
1 Label the bag: Use a sharpie to write the date and the title of the recipe on a gallon-sized zip top bag so you can easily find it on SimplyRecipes.com when you want to cook it. Alternatively, write the cooking instructions on the bag.
2 Combine the ingredients: Roll down the opening of the bag a little just so you don’t accidently get raw chicken juices on the outside of the zip top. Add the chicken, spices, zest, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.
Remove as much air as possible and seal the bag. Smoosh the chicken around so it’s coated in the marinade.
3 Lay the chicken flat in the freezer and freeze for up to 6 months.
Alternatively, you could skip the freezer and let it marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours and up to two days, then cook it according to the directions below.
4 Thaw the chicken before cooking: Take the chicken out of the freezer in the morning before you go to work, and it will be ready to cook by the end of the day.
5 Prepare the onion: Peel and trim the stem ends of the onion, but leave the stem intact so it can keep the onion layers together. Slice the onion in half. Then slice each half into 5 wedges leaving a little stem with each one.
6 Cook the chicken: Set a large skillet over medium heat add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Once the oil shimmers, add chicken and any marinade in the bag. If any chicken is folded up, unfolded it so it lays flat in the pan. Cook the chicken for 2 minutes, then flip it.
7 Add the vegetables: Add the onion wedges, tomatoes, and capers. Cover with a lid. Let everything simmer together for 12 to 15 minutes. The tomatoes should be soft, and the onions dull in color.
8 Check the chicken: Check the chicken to see if it’s cooked through by cutting a piece open. If the juices run clear, and you don’t see any pink the chicken is ready. Use a fork to remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
9 Finish the sauce: Turn the heat up to medium high. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the sauce. Stir it in and let the sauce reduce uncovered for about 2 minutes. Add the spinach stir to coat a couple of times until the spinach has wilted.
10 To serve: Nestle the chicken back into the pan, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring the skillet to the table. Spoon up chicken, vegetables and sauces into shallow bowls or plates. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the sauce.
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