Each day I’ve been wistfully staring at the empty box filled with rich soil in the backyard, reminiscing about the early morning watering, harvesting, and sucker plucking of yesteryear. (I’m a picker so sucker plucking tomato plants is sort of my favorite. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click here.)
It’s just that, I don’t know if the new owner enjoys vegetable gardening, and I’d hate to leave her with loads of plants to take care of if she’s not up to it. It’s a pretty big responsibility! That being said, my Mom planted cough 12 tomato plants a few weeks ago at her house, including three Sweet 100 cherry tomato plants which grew as big as humvees last year, so I can come by and snag a bushel as often as I want to later this summer.
Wake up, non-gardeners, there’s a point to my story!
The point it this: tomato season is quickly approaching and I, for one, could not be more jazzed. There is nothing like the taste of a summer tomato. Deep-crimson in color, with that sweet yet earthy taste. I will without a doubt be raiding my Mom’s tomato patch all summer long for the star ingredient to make Caprese Chicken Nachos with Marinated Tomatoes!
Caprese Chicken Nachos with Marinated Tomatoes combines homemade baked tortilla chips topped with shredded chicken and melted mozzarella cheese, which are drizzled with a sweet balsamic vinegar reduction then dunked into a big vat of marinated fresh tomatoes.
These are messy, eat with a fork type nachos that will satisfy your tomato-lovin’ soul.
The idea has been marinating (see what I did there) in my mind for the past month or so, since trying Whole Foods’ marinated tomatoes in my Mediterranean Smothered Chicken. While my marinated tomatoes are a bit different (I think they used red wine vinegar, perhaps, where I used balsamic) the idea is still the same: Amp up the flavor of fresh tomatoes with pungent garlic and basil, fruity extra virgin olive oil, and tangy vinegar to make an almost bruschetta-like topping for grilled chicken, salads, or in my case, Caprese Chicken Nachos.
I love the combo of sweet balsamic reduction mixed with sour raw balsamic vinegar, garlic, herbs, and creamy mozzarella. So many flavors and textures going on.
Let us begin! Start by making the tomato marinade. In a large glass bowl combine 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar.
Next add 1/4 cup basil that’s been chopped. The easiest way I know to chop basil is to lay all the leaves on top of one another, fattest leaves on the bottom, then roll them from right to left like a big cigar.
Next use a knife to slice the basil into thin strips. Pretty!
Next add 4 cloves smashed garlic (not smashed to smithereens as you’ll want to pluck them out before serving), 2 teaspoons sugar, and lots of salt and pepper.
Whisk the marinade up then add 1lb chopped tomatoes. I used 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, but you could use whatever you love the most. Go crazy.
Place a lid on top then marinate the tomatoes for 15 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator. They just get better and better the longer they sit!
While the tomatoes are marinating, make the balsamic reduction for the nachos. I’ve come to a point in my life where I can no longer make Caprese something without a sweet and syrupy balsamic reduction drizzled on top. It’s a problem. Not really.
Anyway, bring 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil in small saucepan then reduce the heat to medium-high/medium and cook until the vinegar is the consistency of thin maple syrup. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools so don’t let it get super thick while it’s still hot. Remove and cool completely.
FYI: you can make this a day ahead of time then zap in the microwave for a few seconds to get it back to a drizzle consistency.
Next make the nachos. Cut flour tortillas into 8 wedges each then place on a foil-lined, non stick-sprayed baking sheet and spray the tops lightly with more spray. Bake for 4 minutes then top with 1lb cooked –> shredded chicken (I just used leftovers,) and 8oz mozzarella cheese.
Use whatever kind of mozzarella you want, btw. I couldn’t find a big ball to hand shred (twss) to I chopped up these mini mozza balls instead. They worked perfectly!
Bake the nachos for 3-4 more minutes then drizzle with the cooled balsamic reduction. Dunk into the marinated tomatoes, and devour!
Caprese Chicken Nachos with Marinated Tomatoes
4 burrito-sized flour tortillas
1lb chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (2-3 chicken breasts)
8oz fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or cubed
1 cup balsamic vinegar
For the marinated tomatoes:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon sugar
lots of salt & pepper
1lb vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded & chopped (3-4 tomatoes)
- For the marinated tomatoes: Whisk together all ingredients except tomatoes in a glass bowl. Add tomatoes and then cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight. Remove garlic cloves before serving.
- Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan then lower heat to medium and simmer until it’s the consistency of thin maple syrup, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Note: vinegar will continue to thicken as it cools and can be made a day or two ahead of time.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut flour tortillas into 8 wedges each then place onto a foil-lined, non-stick sprayed baking sheet and spray tops with more non-stick spray. Bake for 3-4 minutes, or until wedges are slightly toasted and just starting to turn golden brown. Top with cheese then bake for 4-5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with cooled balsamic drizzle and serve with marinated tomatoes.
Fresh and lively, these nachos will do a little dance in your mouth. The marinated tomatoes are where. it’s. at. If (IF) you have any leftovers, scoop them onto olive oil brushed then baked baguette slices, on top of grilled chicken or salmon, or mixed into salads. Don’t forget the balsamic reduction!