An easy chicken rollatini recipe that celebrates my Sicilian roots with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and capers. A weeknight meal that’s rooted in tradition with one eye on the future.
Creating this Chicken Rollatini recipe for Ragú filled me with memories of my Great Nana, Carmela, who came here from Sicily as a young girl.
Whatever the opposite of sentimental is? That was Carmela! (She’d probably hate that heart around her picture!) If she missed Sicily, we never heard about it. She was traditional, yes, but she was always moving forward. I can almost hear her saying, “Life goes on. What?!? You want it any other way?!?”
I also remember her practicality. For example, there was a period of time when Carmela had some chickens in her backyard. My dad considered them pets. To this day, when I ask him about Great Nana’s chickens he says, “You mean MY chickens?” Carmela would have considered this ridiculous as they were clearly a source for eggs and, eventually, she served the roosters for dinner. My dad did not eat that night.
It recently came to my attention that I had one thing wrong about Carmela, though. I had taken what I thought I knew about that era, traditional gender roles and old world values and assumed something that turned out to be untrue. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Those same assumptions were challenged by the story of the woman behind the Ragú name. Assunta Cantisano came to America from Naples. A single mother in upstate New York during the Great Depression, she had not been dealt a great deck of cards. But she had an entrepreneurial spirit and a secret weapon up her sleeve. Her family’s tomato sauce recipe made from farm-grown, all-natural ingredients.
She started selling it from her front porch and worked hard to turn it into a very prosperous business. And in the 80 years since, Ragú’s leaders have maintained Assunta’s uncompromising standards never adding anything artificial. Even throughout the 1970s when everything was artificial! Especially, and this is a biggie…high fructose corn syrup. You won’t find it in any of Ragú’s products.
Chicken Rollatini Recipe with a Sicilian Twist
I had a lot of fun creating this chicken rollatini recipe, reminiscing about my Great Nana and sharing a tradition with my family. This recipe has all the things I remember about Carmela.
- Chicken – see above.
- Artichoke hearts – I could not BELIEVE she actually liked them! Pearls before swine.
- Black olives – my cousins and I would hide under the dining room table, waiting for the salad to be brought out. It always had big, juicy black olives on top. But not for long!!! Somehow, we thought we were getting away with something…
- And of course, the sauce! Ragú made that part so much easier!
So the thing I had wrong? Carmela worked outside the home! She was a seamstress for a company that manufactured clothes for the military. And that’s not all!
Carmela asked her boss to set aside some of her pay every week and let her know when it added up to $6,000.00. On the day she reached her goal, she brought the cash home, slapped it down on the table in front of her husband, Luciano, and declared, “Now we can pay off the mortgage!”
To which Luciano replied, in typical old world Italian fashion, “And now YOU can stop working!”
Whether or not she did is unclear.
- 6 -8 thin chicken cutlets about 3 to 4 ounces each
- 1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts
- 1/4 cup of black olives I used kalamata
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 eggs beaten with a splash of milk in a shallow bowl
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs in a shallow bowl I used gluten free
- 1 jar Ragú Old World Style no sugar added tomato sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush a baking dish with olive oil.
- Pulse artichokes, olives,and capers in a food processor until fairly well combined.
- Add 1/2 cup of the artichoke mixture to a bowl with the ricotta, parmigiano reggiano and egg. Stir to combine.
- Lay chicken cutlets flat on a plastic cutting board. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the artichoke/cheese mixture in a thin layer on top of each cutlet. Then gently roll the cutlet and leave seam side down.
- Roll the chicken in the egg mixture, then in the bread crumbs and arrange in a baking dish, still seam side down.
- Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven, spread the Ragú tomato sauce on top and in between the rollatinis.
- Bake for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with pasta and a green salad.
You’ll have some of the artichoke mixture leftover. Let me know in the comments how you plan to use it. I need ideas!