Add this to the list of recipes I’ve been obsessed with as of late. What’s one more, after all?
I love Mexican food – it’s second only to Mediterranean – and I could easily eat it everyday. It’s one of those things I tend not to make for myself at home though. Why, you ask? Well, I don’t feel like I can really do it justice. Plus, when you go out for Mexican, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get some crunchy, salty, so-good-they-might-be-laced-with-crack tortilla chips.
And now you know why I can’t keep tortilla chips in my house. They pose a problem.
This Salsa Baked Chicken is so good on its own you don’t even need the tortilla chips. You’ll still want them, of course – you’re only human after all. Curb the craving by serving your chicken with some brown rice and guacamole. Realize that hankering for tortilla chips really didn’t go anywhere and make yourself reservations at your favorite Mexican restaurant.
Then, make this chicken to tide yourself over.
Start out by spraying a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and covering the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of thinly sliced onions. I usually opt for sweet onions, so what you’re looking at above is a Vidalia – it’s going to cook down and get even sweeter.
Up on top of your onion slices, you’re going to add some good old leafy greens – hearty spinach. Remember that the spinach will wilt as it cooks and take up a lot less room in the pan as well, so really pack it in there. Then, scatter a couple spoonfuls of salsa over your spinach. What kind of salsa you use is entirely up to you – go with what you know. When it comes to me, there is only one brand of salsa worth buying. Look for the salsa with the classically handsome man on it.
He’ll never let you down.
While this brand offers a slew of different salsas, this particular variety is called Farmer’s Garden and it’s far and away my favorite. It’s super thick and chunky thanks to the ton the chopped up veggies that go into each jar. Carrots, bell pepper, tomatoes – you name it – it’s in there. There’s also enough kick to satisfy those seeking heat, but it’s not so spicy that wimps won’t enjoy.
On your bed of spinach, lay down your chicken breasts that you’ve generously sprinkled – on both sides – with taco seasoning. If you’re feeling ambitious, knock yourself out and make a batch of homemade taco seasoning. Or, if you’re like me and you’re feeling lazyish – take a helping hand from the stuff that comes in the little packet. I always go for the lower sodium variety when I buy pre-made taco seasoning – I find it to be salty enough on its own, but if you feel the need to add a pinch more, at least you can control the salt content.
How much water weight you want to retain is entirely up to you
The last layer we’ll need to add before baking is the remaining salsa – just smother those chicken breasts and don’t feel bad about it. All that tomatoey goodness will keep that chicken moist while it cooks and it’ll also seep down to mingle with the spinach and onions.
This is perfection in Pyrex, people.
Salsa Baked Chicken
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
adapted from AllRecipes
4 ounces fresh spinach
16 ounce jar of your favorite salsa (I use Newman’s Own Farmer’s Market)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons taco seasoning (or more, to taste)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and put down a layer of thinly sliced onions. Then, top with a hearty helping of spinach and a couple spoonfuls of salsa. Place chicken breasts on top of the spinach, sprinkling taco seasoning on both sides. Pour on the remaining salsa.
Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is tender and juicy and its juices run clear. The time will depend on the size of the chicken breasts.
Sprinkle chicken evenly with cheese, and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt) if desired, and serve.
Delicious served over brown rice or black beans with a scoop of guacamole.
Your chicken will need a little bit to bake, so now’s the time to gather your sides. Just because I default to rice and guac doesn’t mean that’s the only option. Black beans would work or even just some simple, warm flour tortillas to wrap this obsession of mine up in. Mmm hmm.
Did I mention that the last ten minutes of cooking time are devoted to topping everything off with shredded cheese and then anxiously waiting/salivating while it melts?
Yeah…I don’t think I’ll get sick of this dish any time soon.