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Grilled Chicken Italiano

June 30, 2015 Entrees, Menu No Comments

Growing up in South Philadelphia, I have enjoyed more than my share of delicious and delectable sandwiches. While cheesesteaks, hoagies and roast pork sandwiches rank among highest on most Philadelphians’ lists, my all time favorite ‘sang-weech’ is the classic Chicken Italiano. Seasoned chicken breast, broccoli rabe, prosciutto and provolone packed in a crispy Italian roll…what is there not to love? Now I do realize that there are different variations of a Chicken Italiano, using other ingredients such as peppers, mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes. But the prosciutto, provolone and rabe combination is the version that I fell in love with. For this post, I would like to share with you my grilled version of this amazing combination….a perfect dish for any summer cook-out!

This grilled version does differ just a bit from the classic sandwich. First, while broccoli rabe is one of my all-time favorite greens, I decided instead to use a home made basil-mint pesto. My garden is overloaded with fresh basil and mint, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to put both to good use. Of course, you can stick with the traditional broccoli rabe if you prefer. I also like to prepare and serve the chicken breasts whole. You can cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces to serve in a sandwich if you like, but I find that cooking and serving the chicken breasts whole allows for prosciutto, provolone and pesto (or rabe) to melt evenly on top.

You’ll want to marinate the chicken breasts for a good two to four hours before grilling. You can find a good, basic lemon and garlic marinade by clicking here. You can also used a bottled marinade of your choice, but I would stick to a basic garlic, lemon or white wine flavored marinade. There are too many good tastes happening with this dish, so you don’t want to overpower the chicken with an strong-flavored marinade.

Grilled Chicken Italiano

4-6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
4-6 slices prosciutto
4-6 slices provolone cheese
*Basic lemon-garlic marinade (see recipe below) or 1 bottle marinade (any combination of garlic, lemon and white wine will work)
**Fresh basil-mint pesto (see recipe below)

Pierce chicken breasts with a fork to allow marinade to soak in. Place chicken breasts in a plastic bag, pour marinade into bag, making sure that all of the chicken breasts are well coated. Refrigerate for two to four hours.

Pre-heat your grill to high. Make sure that your grill grates are brushed with oil to avoid sticking. Reduce heat to medium-high, and place the chicken on the grill, discarding the bag with the used marinade. Keep lid closed. Turn chicken occasionally, until browned and done. Top the chicken breasts with a dollop of the pesto, a slice of provolone and a slice of prosciutto. Allow to heat for another few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and the prosciutto starts to slightly crisp. Remove from grill, serve and enjoy!




*Lemon-Garlic Marinade
Adapted from food.com

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh preferred
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients together to pour over chicken.

Note – this recipe’s measurements are for 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. You may need to increase the ingredients for the amount of chicken breasts that you are making.

**Fresh Basil-Mint Pesto
Adapted from simplyrecipes.com

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and mint with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to a week.
Makes 1 cup.


Eggplant Prosciutto Involtini

August 21, 2014 Menu No Comments

One of the more trendy dishes that you may find today on an Italian menu is Eggplant Involtini.

Inspired by the Italian word for ‘little bundles’, eggplant involtini is thinly-sliced eggplant, stuffed and rolled with a ricotta filling, then cooked in a basic tomato sauce. My wife and I always preferred to have our eggplant prepared thin, so involtini is a dish that we enjoy whenever we have the chance.

For my version of eggplant involtini, I’m replacing the ricotta stuffing with a garlic-herb goat cheese (one of my latest guilty pleasures) topped with a thin slice of prosciutto. There is no need for tomato sauce in this recipe (although feel free to add it on top if you wish).

When baked, the eggplant develops a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft and tasty interior, and is the perfect casing for the crispy and salty prosciutto and the creamy and tangy goat cheese.

This dish serves well as an appetizer or a main course.



  • 1 large eggplant, skin removed and sliced thin from top to bottom (you will get about 6-8 slices)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic herb goat cheese
  • prosciutto


Preheat oven to 375˚. Lightly drizzle eggplant slices on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Place slices on a cooking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until eggplant starts to turn golden brown.

Remove from oven, flip the eggplant slices and place a dollop of the goat cheese on each slice. Top with a thin slice of prosciutto, then fold in half (rolling may cause the slices to break). Place the eggplant back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the eggplant is a rich golden brown, being careful not to burn the eggplant.

Serve and enjoy.

The baked eggplant topped with goat cheese.

The baked eggplant topped with goat cheese.

Folded and ready to be served.

Folded and ready to be served.


Crostini: The Perfect Party Appetizer

December 29, 2013 Appetizer, Menu No Comments

If you’re looking for a simple and impressive appetizer for your New Year’s Eve house party, or if you want to look like a gourmet, rock-star guest at someone else’s house party, crostini is the perfect dish to serve. With just a few basic ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your kitchen, you can prepare and serve a variety of crostini in under 20 minutes. If you’re planning to make crostini for another person’s house party, you’ll want to bring all ingredients with you and prepare it while you’re there. Check with your host ahead of time to see if they have olive oil, grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper on hand for you to use (you’ll only need a bit of each). If they don’t, be sure to let them know that you’ll supply it…and then leave whatever is unused at your host’s house as a token of appreciation for them allowing you to use their kitchen.



1 long, thin loaf of crusty bread, preferably a baguette
1 ball fresh mozzarella (do not use the bagged shredded cheese)
6-8 pieces of thin-sliced prosciutto (the pre-packaged variety will work for this in a pinch)
1 small jar bruschetta topping
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350º. Slice the baguette into 1/2″ slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle the slices with olive oil, then sprinkle with a light amount of salt and pepper (do not add salt to the pieces that you will be topping with prosciutto, there is enough salt in the meat). Use any combination of thin slices of the mozzarella, pieces of the prosciutto (about 1/4 of a slice of prosciutto for each piece of bread will be plenty), a spoonful of the bruschetta topping and the parmesan cheese to assemble a variety of crostini. I like to top some with the prosciutto and mozzarella, some with the bruschetta and parmesan, and some with just the parmesan and an additional drizzle of olive oil. You can also add some garlic powder for additional taste. Bake the crostini for about 8-10 minutes, until the bread is toasted and the toppings are heated but not burned.

Serve immediately and enjoy!


Summer Stuffed Tomatoes

June 28, 2013 Appetizer, Menu, Salads No Comments

Earlier this month, my daughter Julianna’s softball team made all of the cheering parents proud when they battled it out in extra innings and took home their division championship trophy. This, of course, was followed up last week with a celebration barbecue hosted by the coaches. What started out simply as “burgers, dogs, beer, and whatever you would like to contribute” quickly spiraled into a full-blown Hawaiian-themed luau….coconut bras and grass skirts included.

My first intentions were to bring a nice seasonal appetizer, planning to somehow use tomatoes, which are one of my favorite summer foods. When the party turned Hawaiian, my thought was “how do I add a Hawaiian spin to this?” The answer…add some pineapple! Borrowing some inspiration from Hawaiian-style pizza, I came up with cherry tomatoes stuffed with pineapple, feta and prosciutto, drizzled with a balsamic reduction.

I am happy to say that this appetizer went over really well. The dish is very easy to make (ok, you are putting in some effort when stuffing, but the end result is worth the time), and it compliments any summer cook-out. We enjoyed them so much, that we also made them a few days later for our annual family birthday cook-out.

So if you are looking for a fun recipe to bring to a cook-out this summer that is both delicious and impressive, give this one a try! The ingredients are listed below without actual measurements, you can easily adjust according to how many you are planning to make.

Summer Stuffed Tomatoes

(adjust the ingredients according to amount needed)
Cherry Tomatoes (not to be mistaken with the smaller grape tomato)
Crumbled soft cheese (such as bleu cheese, feta or gorgonzola)
Chopped pineapple
Balsamic vinegar

Cut the stem off of the tomatoes. Using a small knife, gently scoop out the pulp of the tomato, being careful not to tear or puncture the skin. Next, slice a piece of prosciutto into quarters. Use one of the quarter pieces to wrap around a small amount of cheese and a small piece of pineapple. Gently stuff the wrapped cheese and pineapple into a tomato. As you stuff more tomatoes, you will get a better feel of how much cheese and pineapple will fit into a tomato without tearing the tomato skin. Secure each tomato with a toothpick (this will serve a dual purpose: to help keep the tomato from falling apart, and to allow your guests to easily pick up the tomato). Plate the stuffed tomatoes, then drizzle with a balsamic reduction.*

*To make a quick balsamic reduction, simply pour 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vinegar has reduced to 1/4 cup. Set aside, and cool to room temperature.


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