February is American Heart Month

Parchment-Baked Chicken with Caramelized Onions and California Figs

Good nutrition is key to the prevention of heart disease, which remains the top cause of death in the United States (1).  Want to learn more? Check your knowledge of heart disease with the Center for Disease Control Quiz (2). Assess your risk by taking the My Life Check assessment developed by the American Heart Association (AHA).  And review the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7, a guide to a healthy lifestyle to promote heart health and prevent disease (3).

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

My recipe to honor American Heart Month starts by cutting out large hearts from parchment paper.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

The hearts are folded in half and sealed to enclose a filling of chicken breasts, wrapped with a thin slice of prosciutto* and baked on a bed of caramelized onions and figs flavored with fresh sage and white wine.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Snip open the envelope and enjoy the amazing aromas before you dig in.

I created the recipe for the Valley Fig Growers, February Fig Focus Newsletter.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

 *If you’re concerned about sodium, omit the prosciutto. I use it from time to time, as in this recipe, where it delivers so much wonderful flavor. Note that the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends consuming salted and cured meats, which includes prosciutto, only occasionally.

Parchment-Baked Chicken with Caramelized Onions and California Figs

Serves 4.

Parchment paper

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and sliced (¼ inch thickness), about 3 large onions

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

1 cup Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Figs, stemmed and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus 4 whole sage leaves

2 tablespoons white wine or dry sherry

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Ground black pepper, to taste

4 slices prosciutto


  1. Cut four sheets of parchment paper into 15-x-22-inch rectangles. Fold each piece in half crosswise. With a pencil, mark half of a heart on each folded piece, making the fold the center of the heart. Set aside.


  1. Place a large 12-inch skillet with lid over medium heat. Swirl in oil. Add onions and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon sugar.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to release their liquid and soften, about 5 minutes. Remove cover, reduce heat to medium-low to low and cook, stirring often, till onions are soft and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in Figs, chopped sage and wine.


  1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat oven to 400°.


  1. Place one chicken breast in a food-safe plastic bag. Seal bag. Place bag on a cutting board. Pound with a meat mallet to an even, 1/3-inch thickness. Repeat with remaining breasts. Cut chicken into 4 equal pieces. Place chicken pieces on a plate. Sprinkle both sides of each with ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place a sage leaf on each and wrap with one slice of prosciutto.


  1. Open parchment hearts. Spoon ¼ of onion-Fig mixture in center of each heart. Spread to an oval shape about the size of a chicken piece. Top with chicken. To seal packets, make small, overlapping folds around the edge of each heart. Press each fold firmly and crease the edge so packets are very tightly sealed and will not open during baking.


  1. Place packets on two large baking sheets (2 packets on each sheet). Place one sheet on upper rack and one on lower rack of oven. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, switching position of sheets halfway through cooking, until packets are puff and chicken is done (temperature is 165° measured with an instant read thermometer).


  1. Place packets on serving plates. Snip open with scissors. Serve warm.

1.    Center for Disease Control


2.    CDC’s Heart Health Quiz


  1. Life’s Simple 7


  1. American Institute for Cancer Research


© Lorelle Del Matto 2017



lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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