A beautiful plate of sliced tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil drizzled with a rich balsamic reduction was always a mainstay on our Italian table growing up. You have come to know and love it as Caprese or Insalata Caprese. (Have you ever noticed that this dish reflects the colors of the Italian flag?) Besides being a delicious and light salad or appetizer, Caprese is as versatile as a dish gets. So much so, that you’ll now find it in many variations and combinations with other foods. The Marinated Chicken Caprese is the perfect example and is sure to be a new favorite for you and your family! You can make the pesto and balsamic reduction from scratch or use store bought. The Chicken Caprese also answers that age-old pesky question; How can I come up with new ways to cook Chicken? Well, maybe I can help you at least for this week!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
- 2 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
- 4 slices thick buffalo mozzarella (about 14 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons pesto
- 1/2 cup basil chiffonade (sliced in thin strips)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction (Recipe below)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
For the Chicken:
For the Homemade Pesto:
- In a large shallow bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano, 2 tablespoons chopped basil, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and allow to marinate for half an hour. In a large skillet over medium heat, pan-grill chicken for 5-6 minutes each side, or until completely cooked through in the center, and slightly charred on the outer edges. While chicken is cooking, grill the tomato slices for 1-2 minutes each side. Spread each chicken breast with a spoonful of fresh pesto, then top with 1 slice of mozzarella and 1 grilled tomato slice, allowing the heat to melt the cheese. (If needed, place the oven-safe skillet in the oven and heat at 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese.) To serve, top with the shredded basil and balsamic reduction.
- In a small saucepan over medium high heat, simmer the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar until as thick as syrup and reduced by half. Serves 4.
- Combine basil leaves, pine nuts (or walnuts) and garlic in a food processor. Blend until very finely minced. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil and blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine. (Pesto can be stored in refrigerator or freezer.)