I’m Italian and there is no better appetizer than a Caprese Salad in my opinion. It’s nostalgic and reminds me of family. With the quarantine, I miss being gathered around a noisy table. Even though it’s my favorite, the large amounts of cheese aren’t exactly helpful to my waistline. The mozzarella is limited in this dish to make it diet friendly, but there is no lack of flavor. You’ll feel like you’re cheating on your diet while you savor every bite of this recipe!
What you’ll need to get started:
1 package of chicken breasts
4 oz. of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese (I bought a small pre-sliced log)
1-2 tomatoes (Campari, Roma or Beefsteak)
1 bunch of basil (2-3 cups was used in this recipe)
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1-2 pinches salt
1-2 pinches black pepper
A few things I’d like to point out before you dive into the recipe. I will be making a homemade pesto sans nuts. If you like your pesto with pine nuts, please feel free to substitute with your favorite pesto. Additionally, I’m making a small quantity which makes it hard to purée in a food processor. I used a mortar bowl to purée my ingredients, but they could easily be finely chopped as an alternative. Let’s get cooking!
1. Combine the chicken, 2 tbsp of oil, the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a shallow Tupperware or ziplock bag. Evenly coat the chicken with the mixture.
2. Marinate in fridge for 30-60 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. While the chicken is marinating, prep the pesto that will be placed on top of the chicken. Combine 2-3 cups of basil, 2 tbsp of oil, 1 clove of garlic and salt/pepper to your mini food processor. Again, if your quantity isn’t large enough for your processor a mortar bowl can be used as an alternative or the ingredients can be finely chopped and stirred/crushed together. Place to the side.
4. This step is optional: In a fry pan heat oil over medium heat and pan sear the chicken (approx 1 minute each side). This will help seal in flavor and give the chicken more coloring. Transfer to a sheet pan or dish to finish cooking in the oven.
5. Once chicken is in the sheet pan or dish, place the pesto mixture over each piece of chicken. I usually use one tsp of the pesto per piece of chicken and spread over the top.
6. Place the chicken in the oven and cook to an approx. internal temperature of l35-140 degrees.
7. Add one slice of tomato in the center of each chicken slice. Then add 1 oz. of sliced mozzarella cheese to each piece of chicken. The cheese slices should be evenly spread and centered. This will allow the cheese to melt around the tomato and chicken, holding it all together. Don’t be alarmed if your cheese melts off the chicken. Simply scoop it to cover any spots that may have been missed on the chicken.
8. Once the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (cook times will vary depending on size and thickness), remove from the oven and rest for 3-5 minutes, then serve.
This recipe will create 4 servings.
I love to serve this dish with roasted asparagus or broccoli as a side. Buon appetito!