Cupids Health

Chicken Florentine – Healthy Little Foodies


Chicken Florentine, a delicious layered dish of chicken, spinach and tomatoes baked in a creamy bechamel sauce.

This recipe was first published in Jan 2014. I have updated the post to include more recipe information and new photos. 

Close Up of Baked Chicken Florentine in Baking Dish with Portion Removed

What is Chicken Florentine?

Florentine refers to a dish that is prepared, cooked or served with spinach. If you search Chicken Florentine on the internet the results will show a range of different dishes. However, generally, they all contain chicken, spinach and a creamy sauce. This version layers tomato, spinach, chicken, bechamel sauce and is topped with cheese and panko breadcrumbs. 

Why Chicken Florentine is Great for Families.

  • Make-ahead dish: This is a perfect meal to make ahead of time. Great for families with young children (who are often tired and cranky around dinner time) and also families with busy work or after school activities schedules. Just pop the prepared dish in the oven when you get home. 
  • Easy to Make in Individual Portions: You can make this recipe in one baking dish or make individual portions using small bake-proof dishes. If you have very young children you can remove and assemble an individual portion for them and then season the remaining before assembling for the rest of the family. 
  • A different way to serve spinach. I’m always saying that you should never give up serving children food that they have previously refused to eat,  instead I encourage parents to find different ways to serve it. Perhaps this dish will win over a spinach hater, the creaminess of the white sauce works so well with the spinach and seems to appeal to both young and older palettes

How to Make Chicken Florentine

 

How to Make Chicken Florentine (Process Steps for Tomato, Spinach & Chicken Layers)

This is an easy dish to make but it does take a bit of time and you do end up with quite a lot of washing up!  For this reason, I often make double the amount and freeze.  

  • LAYER 1 (Tomato) – Drain the juices from the tomatoes then add the tomatoes to a large frying pan (skillet) with half of the garlic. Fry for a 2 minutes, over medium heat. Transfer this mixture to an ovenproof dish (or individual dishes if prefered)

  • LAYER 2 (Spinach) – Squeeze as much liquid out from the defrosted frozen spinach. Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat melt the 1/2 tsp of butter. Add the spinach and saute for 2-3 mins. Spread the spinach on top of the tomato layer.

  • LAYER 3 (Chicken) – Flatten the chicken tenderloins (place chicken between cling film sheets or in a zip lock back and batter with a rolling pin). Add the olive oil and garlic to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Flash fry the flattened chicken fillets until browned (no need to fully cook unless preparing in advance). Layer on top of the spinach.

  • LAYER 4 (White Sauce) Melt butter in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, and add the flour and mustard powder to form a roux, stir continuously for about 2 minutes. Add milk a little at a time, keep stirring/whisking continuously between each pour. Stir out any lumps before adding more milk. Continue adding the milk little by little until all the milk is incorporated and the sauce is thick and glossy. Layer the sauce on top of the chicken.

  • LAYER 5 (Crispy Topping) -Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumbs on top of the sauce.

  • Bake for approx. 20 mins (until heated through and crispy on top)

Image Showing the 5 Different Layers of Chicken Florentine

Can The Recipe Be Adapted In Any Way?

Florentine means “made with spinach” and the spinach works very well with the white sauce. However, using some minced beef or fish fillets instead of chicken would provide excellent variations on this dish.

Storage Instructions

Please note, for food safety reasons, that if preparing in advance the chicken tenderloins should be completely cooked before they are layered with the rest of the ingredients.  

Refrigerating:

  • Make-ahead – Chicken Florentine can be prepared up to stage ten and kept in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 24 hours before baking and serving. 
  • Leftovers – Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 1-2 days. 

Freezing

  • Chicken Florentine freezes well, before baking, and will remain in good condition for up to 3 months in the freezer. After that, it will still be safe to consume but the taste may have deteriorated.
  • Freeze in an ovenproof dish, preferably with a lid. If a lid is not available, it should be covered with wax or plastic wrap.

Side View of Baked Chicken Florentine

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Close Up of Baked Chicken Florentine in Baking Dish with Portion Removed

Chicken Florentine

A delicious layered dish of chicken, spinach and tomatoes baked in a creamy bechamel sauce.

Instructions

  • Pre heat oven to 200c / 400f / Gas 6

  • Drain the juices from the tomatoes then add the tomatoes to a large frying pan (skillet) with half of the garlic. Fry for a 2 minutes, over medium heat. Transfer this mixture to an ovenproof dish (or individual dishes if prefered)

  • Squeeze as much liquid out from the defrosted frozen spinach. Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat melt the 1/2 tsp of butter. Add the spinach and saute for 2-3 mins. Spread the spinach on top of the tomato layer.

  • Flatten the chicken tenderloins (place chicken between cling film sheets or in a zip lock back and batter with a rolling pin). Add the olive oil and garlic to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Flash fry the flattened chicken fillets until browned (no need to fully cook unless preparing in advance). Layer on top of the spinach.

  • Make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, and add the flour and mustard powder to form a roux, stir continuously for about 2 minutes. Add milk a little at a time, keep stirring/whisking continuously between each pour. Stir out any lumps before adding more milk. Continue adding the milk little by little until all the milk is incorporated and the sauce is thick and glossy. Layer the sauce on top of the chicken.

  • Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumbs on top of the sauce.

  • Bake for aprox. 20 mins (until heated through and crispy on top)

Recipe Notes

 

SPINACH: Frozen spinach is used because so much spinach is required. A bag of frozen spinach contains a mountain of fresh leaves. If you would prefer to use fresh spinach then you can but just factor in the extra time needed to cook down the spinach. 

CHICKEN: Chicken tenderloins (mini fillets) are the most convenient, but sliced chicken breasts can be substituted if tenderloins are not available.

DRAINING JUICES FROM TOMATOES & SPINACH:It is important to remove the excess liquid or the end dish will be watery. I do this using a sift. Sometimes I feel the spinach still requires more liquid to be removed and so I place the spinach in a clean dish cloth and squeeze out the liquid. (See post for images of this step). Don’t throw away these juices, save them to add to smoothies or sauces. 

MAKING IN ADVANCE: If preparing this dish to cook later, or to freeze, then the chicken tenderloins should be completely cooked before they are layered with the rest of the ingredients.  

 

Nutritional information is a ROUGH guide only, calculated using an online nutrition calculator. 

 

Nutrition Facts

Chicken Florentine

Amount Per Serving

Calories 493
Calories from Fat 198

% Daily Value*

Fat 22g34%

Saturated Fat 11g55%

Cholesterol 116mg39%

Sodium 877mg37%

Potassium 1813mg52%

Carbohydrates 35g12%

Fiber 10g40%

Sugar 14g16%

Protein 44g88%

Vitamin A 24426IU489%

Vitamin C 32mg39%

Calcium 614mg61%

Iron 7mg39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 





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