We live near a town known for its Italian food, Krebs — also known as “Oklahoma’s Little Italy.” It was settled by Italian immigrants years ago, who soon opened several restaurants, cafés, and shops. In fact, two of my favorite foodie establishments are there. Lovera’s Italian Market makes their own award winning cheeses, sauces, sausages, marinades, dressings, etc. When I go into their shop, I want one of everything. It’s a foodie’s dream. My other favorite Little Italy stop is Rosanna’s Italian Food. Their Chicken Parmesan is to die for. Rosanna’s also makes cheesecakes from scratch. Again, a foodie’s paradise…however this Weight Watcher has to enjoy these things in moderation. When I’m craving Chicken Parmesan but don’t want to spend the calories or cash, I make this easy, healthy spin-off. It’s baked instead of fried and has all the best parts of Chicken Parm, complete with that crunchy crust which makes it worthwhile. Plus, it’s much faster and easier for busy cooks! Serve it with spaghetti or all by itself.
Ingredients for chicken layer:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast – cut into small pieces
1 (29 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 packet McCormick Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix
1 T. garlic salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
¼ to ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I use ½ tsp. – plus I add more on my plated serving.)
Non-stick cooking spray
Ingredients for topping:
2 c. low moisture, part skim shredded mozzarella
2 c. panko breadcrumbs
½ c. shredded parmesan
1 ½ T. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. garlic salt
Basil, for garnish (optional) – I buy the chopped, lightly dried kind in the produce section
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread chicken pieces evenly on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 T. garlic salt, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk McCormick seasoning packet into tomato sauce until well combined. Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the chicken.
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella evenly over sauce; set pan aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine panko, shredded parmesan, olive oil, and ½ tsp. garlic salt. Spread this topping evenly on top of mozzarella layer.
I usually spray a quick spritz of non-stick cooking spray over the top, to ensure even browning, but that is optional.
Bake on the center oven rack for 45-60 minutes until very bubbly and browned on the top (most importantly, until chicken is 165°F in the center). If it starts to get too brown before fully cooked, cover loosely with foil.
Sprinkle with chopped basil before serving, if desired.
Weight Watchers info: This recipe makes 8 servings.
Old Smartpoints plan: 8 SmartPoints per serving
Freestyle plan: 6 SmartPoints per serving
*Many have asked why spaghetti is not included in the SmartPoints calculation. This is so you can customize it to your needs. You can eat it with a big serving of spaghetti or a small serving, zoodles (zucchini noodles), spaghetti squash, or no spaghetti at all.