The first time I made this CHeesy Chicken I just piled everything into a baking dish. Popped it in the oven and set the timer so dinner cooked itself while the boys and I went for a walk to the dam.
The only trick was I didn’t take the timer with me so we had to guess when we needed to be home. Luckily we made it!
But next time I’ll use the timer on my phone :)
As always just use the recipe as a starting place. Make it your own with inspiration from the variations below.
- 4 medium zucchini (800g / 28oz)
- 4 chicken thigh fillets (450g /1lb)
- 1/2 cup tomato passata or puree
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- 150 g (5oz) grated cheese
- 1 bunch coriander cilantro or parsley
Turn your oven on to 250C (480F). Slice zucchini into rounds about 1cm (1/2in) thick and place in a baking tray.
Chop chicken thighs into 2 pieces and place on top of the zucchini. Mix tomato and paprika (if using) and pour sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pop in the oven for 15 minutes.
When the timer goes, scatter the cheese over the top of the chicken and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Serve with coriander / parsley leaves sprinkled over.
WINE MATCH: A big buttery Chardonnay.
Variations & Substitutions for Cheesy Chicken
no smoked paprika – it’s lovely without. Or you can replace with ground cumin or coriander.
hot! – add a little dried chilli powder or fresh chopped chilli to the tomato. If you have some chipotle chilli in adobo sauce, definitely use them! Or serve with your fave hot sauce.
keto / ultra low carb – skip the tomato. replace 1/2 the zucchini with baby spinach leaves added at the end. Reduce the cheese. Serve with mayo or aioli.
vegetarian – replace chicken with cooked chickpeas, black beans or lentils. Tempeh or tofu is another option.
dairy-free – skip the cheese and serve roast chicken and veg with a tasty sauce like mayo or smashed avocado & lime. Or cashew sour cream.
more substantial (carb lovers) – roast sweet potato or other root veg separately. Or serve with corn chips, warm tortillas, rice or pita.
more substantial (low carb) – serve with sour cream or avocado smashed with lime and salt. Or these zucchini tortillas. Or roast nuts.
different vegetables – bell peppers (capsicum), eggplant, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli or finely sliced onion are all great! If you want to use root veg, cook them separately or add them to the pan and roast for 15-20 minutes to give them a head start before adding the zucchini. Leafy greens (cooked separately) or salad leaves can give a nice boost. I usually add a big scoop of home made sauerkraut for a little probiotic crunch.
different protein – sausages, chicken breast fillets, ham, cooked chickpeas, cooked black beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh.
Waste Avoidance Strategy
zucchini – will keep for 2 weeks or longer in a plastic bag in the fridge. To keep it even longer, cook sliced zucchini in a little butter until just soft then store in an airtight container in the fridge.
chicken thigh fillets – freeze them.
tomato passata or puree / smoked paprika – keep them in the pantry.
cheese – most hard and melting cheeses will keep for weeks wrapped in waxed paper or baking paper and stored in an airtight container (or sealed ziplock bag) in the fridge. If you need to store for longer cheese can be frozen.
coriander – best to use for another meal. Can be frozen but will wilt when defrosted.
You can but I prefer the chicken freshly cooked. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a week or can be frozen. To serve, warm in the oven or in a frying pan with a little oil – will look messy but still delicious!
More Simple Low Carb Chicken Dinner Ideas Similar to Cheesy Chicken
- Minute Chicken with Green Olive Chimmichurri
- One Pot Chicken & Broccoli with Peanut & Lime Sauce
- Pesto Chicken Burgers
- Spiced Roast Chicken & Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Maple Dressing
- Roast Chicken, Walnut & Feta Bowls
- One Tray Chicken & Broccoli with Blue Cheese Dressing
- One Pot Cauliflower, Chicken & Peanut Curry
- 19 Delicious Ideas for Chicken
- The chicken archives.
Have fun in the kitchen!
I appreciate many features of your post. Simplicity, in not needing to scroll thru an abundance of photos to see a recipe, the variations and substitutions are a cooking primer within themselves, and the waste avoidance is a timely idea that I’m sure will resound with many. The recipe sounds good as well! Thank you
Thanks for letting me know Julie!
I will admit to being confused. Chicken “thigh” fillets? I thought chicken “breasts” had fillets. Are we talking just plain boneless skinless chicken thighs? One thing I noticed, you flattened the chicken with your left palm then touched the salt container and the actual salt with your fingers. You didn’t touch the container or salt with your palm which had contact with the chicken but it was close. The dish looks wonderful and I would love to make it but as soon as the zucchini and cheese came out I knew I could not make it as I have a very fussy eater here and 91-year-olds don’t change their minds easily when it comes to food they don’t know! Heck, he doesn’t even like chicken thighs compared to chicken breasts! I like thighs more than breasts myself, but making food for a fussy eater is a tough go on any given day! As a mom, you certainly understand that! Fussy kids is one thing but fussy adults?
Funny that you were confused Denis – you could easily use breasts for your 91-year-old :)
And if he’s more of a meat and potatoes man you could substitute sliced potato for the zucchini – you’ll just need to cook it longer.
Yes fussy adults?! Sounds like my father-in-law :)
This dish was an absolute winner. I cooked as per the recipe. Super quick when I got home from work and delicious as well. Thanks so much, it will be on high rotation here.
Thanks for popping by to let me know. I wish more of my readers were like you :)
I really enjoyed this – used kale instead of the zucchini, and added the last few kalamata olives in the fridge – delicious! And homemade garlicky pasta sauce…
Good to be concerned about kitchen hygiene, Denis, but I doubt if too many bugs would survive after being cooked at 250 degrees C.
Just substitute whatever veg your 91 year old likes, and try cooking this one for yourself – truly delicious!
Thank you for the inspiration! I made this with cabbage (it looks like kale – can’t remember the name) from my garden. Kale would probably work. I also added a yellow bell pepper, broccoli and firm tofu. I didn’t have cilantro though. Topped it with pasta sauce and then the cheese. So simple yet so delicious!!
And love your variations :)
Forgot to put this in for the Challenge. This is a “go to” for me—love chicken thighs, love zucchini, love cheese and love spinach (which I use for salad). This meal combines all those flavors and textures—and it’s healthy!! Love it!!
Nice one Ken!