When I was in college, “Chicken Rollatini” was one of the first recipes I ever added to my regular rotation. Chicken Rollatini is an Italian-American dish that involves rolling up fillings inside of thinly sliced and pounded chicken breast halves, and then baking them. You may also hear them referred to as Involtini or Roulade, but to me, they will always be inauthentically and affectionately called Rollatini.
I used to fill my Rollatini with spinach and ricotta, or broccoli and cheddar, or whatever ingredients I managed to scrounge together with my broke-student budget. Being broke bred some creativity, and there wound up being countless variations that I fell in love with– some of which might also be credited with getting James to fall in love with me (the perks of cooking for your crush in college)! Although I enjoyed a lot of combinations, Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini was always my favorite (and James’, too).
What made them so special? Well, there was flavorful Italian sausage, provolone cheese, tender chicken, and parmesan, to start. Then there was this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce that I served over pasta with the chicken and it was UH. MAZE. ING. to the point that no one would guess it used jarred peppers and canned tomatoes– shhh, no one needs to know, let’s just keep it between us!
All together, it always seemed like the dish took a ton of effort and time, but I had the whole thing done in just under an hour. It was perfect for my busy class schedule then, and it’s still perfect for my busy work schedule now. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly over the years, but this is almost identical to the way I first made it nearly 4 years ago.
- 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, divided
- 1/2 cup basil, chopped, divided, plus more to garnish
- 8 oz Italian sausage, removed from casings (pork or turkey)
- 4 oz provolone cheese, shredded
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 14.5 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 10 oz jarred roasted red peppers, finely diced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 lb pasta of choice, cooked, to serve (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray an oven-safe baking dish and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup basil, the Italian sausage, and provolone cheese. Work the ingredients together with your hands until well-combined.
- Slice the chicken breasts in half, horizontally, to create thinner cutlets. Place the cutlets between pieces of plastic wrap and pound evenly to 1/4” thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the sausage mixture evenly on top of each chicken cutlet. Roll up the chicken cutlets around the sausage mixture and place, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Brush the tops with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and the parmesan cheese. Bake until cooked through and browned on top, about 20 minutes.
- As the chicken bakes, prepare the sauce. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add in the tomatoes, roasted red peppers, chicken stock, dried oregano, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and mix in remaining basil.
- Toss pasta in the sauce, top with chicken, and spoon extra sauce on top. Garnish with basil.
Feel free to add in some hot cherry peppers or crushed red pepper flakes if you want some added heat in your sauce.
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