Grilled Caprese Chicken with Basil Vinaigrette uses the same basil vinaigrette for the chicken marinade and salad dressing. Fresh and tasty!
Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had a fantastic weekend! Ben and I just returned from a short trip to Kansas City, MO!
We had a blast last year and decided to go back again this summer to eat, shop, and play – this time without a bowling ball strapped to my stomach. ;)
We rolled up just in time for happy hour on Friday so we parked it at Gram & Dun in Country Club Plaza (where we were staying) for a cold drink. It was HOT and a glass of bubbles was just the thing to cool down and kick our weekend off with. Kansas City is less than three hours south of us but I couldn’t believe how much hotter it is there. It was like walking around inside an oven!
A cold sweet tea vodka and soda (I’m obsessed) and ponytail also helped remedy the situation. We went to a little neighborhood called Westport next, revisiting a couple places we enjoyed last year including McCoy’s. Total summer gem with a kick-butt patio. Harry’s right down the street is a must-see too. They’ve got this really cool outdoor caboose bar.
The next morning we were up bright and early to meet this girl for breakfast at Bluebird Cafe – Ali from Gimme Some Oven! I met Ali through our blogs several years ago and have loved staying in touch. I especially love when we can get together and talk shop. Poor Ben sat through nearly TWO HOURS of blog talk in between bites. We just couldn’t help ourselves!
The company and atmosphere was great, and so was the food. I got Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict because it was touted as gluten free and served with a gluten free cornbread muffin. It, along with the crispy bacon and caramelized onions the runny eggs cascaded over, was just delish.
We had lots of time and little to do the rest of the day – a situation we haven’t found ourselves in for nearly a year since the arrival of our little man (who was staying with Grammy and Papa for the weekend!)
We shopped. We ate. We walked. We played Heads Up. It. Was. Awesome.
Later that night we cleaned ourselves up and went to dinner at a restaurant I’d wanted to go to last year – The Farmhouse, a tip-to-tail, farm-to-table homestyle restaurant.
Although the patio was open, we’d been outside all day and it really was that hot out, so we scooted inside to eat. I wasn’t too upset about it though because it was super cool and homey, complete with big wooden buffets, mismatched chairs, and long, family-style dining tables.
We started out with a few cold sips – mine was a champagne-laced vodka cocktail with the flavors of cucumber and Thai Basil. SO GOOD. Expertly crafted.
You know what? I was a little disappointed with my braised short rib entree, but the curried deviled eggs we started our meal with, and flourless chocolate torte we ended it with, were both delicious. Ben loved the rabbit and pesto dish he ordered but my short ribs were really tough. Should have followed my own life advice of never turning down scallops on a good restaurant’s menu!
Regardless, we had such a great time that we’re thinking about making this an annual trip. Kansas City is so easy to get to, and there’s seriously so much to do. We haven’t even talked BBQ! ‘Til next time, KC!
Now even if it’s not “inside-an-oven” hot where you live I bet it’s still pretty toasty as we’re truly in the thick of summer. That said, I’ve got a fresh grilled dinner (don’t miss the grill giveaway at the bottom of the post!) you can make tonight that’s not going to heat up the house too much and is light yet filling – Grilled Caprese Chicken with Basil Vinaigrette.
Fresh basil vinaigrette is used as both a grilled chicken marinade and dressing for a Caprese salad-inspired topping, and everything’s smothered in reduced balsamic vinegar. Fresh, fun, and flavorful. I don’t know about you but my appetite seems to drop when the temps heat up, but dishes like this one almost always sound appealing.
This recipe actually materialized after throwing some leftovers together for dinner last week. I had extra basil dressing from our Earth Bowl Salads that I combined with fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes that were nearing use or lose status. Grilled chicken was on the menu for dinner anyway, so I tossed everything together and it totally worked. Both Ben and I loved this simple, summery dish!
Start by making the reduced balsamic vinegar, or balsamic reduction. If you’ve never had this stuff, it’s MAGIC. Balsamic vinegar loses a lot of it’s tang when it’s simmered and reduced, rendering it syrupy and sweet. So freaking amazing. Simply pour 1-1/2 cups balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan then simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the consistency is a little thinner than maple syrup.
The reduction will thicken as it cools so you don’t want to let it reduce too much.
Next make the basil vinaigrette that’s pulling double duty as both the grilled chicken marinade and Caprese salad topping dressing.
Add 1/2 cup lightly packed basil to the bowl of a food processor (or blender,) along with lots of salt and pepper, 1 large clove garlic (or two small ones,) 1 Tablespoon honey and 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Pulse a couple times to chop the basil and garlic then let ‘er rip while streaming in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
Add 1/2 the marinade to a Ziplock bag with 4 small chicken breasts that have been pounded thin and seasoned with salt and pepper, then stash in the fridge to marinate for as little as 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Meanwhile, make the Caprese salad topping which features sweet cherry tomatoes. I canNOT get enough CTs in the summertime – my sweet 100 plant is currently dripping with ‘em! You’ll need 1 pint halved cherry tomatoes.
Tip: for “pretty” halved cherry tomatoes, make sure you’re cutting through the fattest part of the tomato.
Versus the skinny side. See the difference?
Toss the tomatoes together in a bowl with 8oz mozzarella cheese pearls.
These babies are TOO much fun!
If you can’t find the pearls, chopped regular fresh mozzarella is totally fine too.
Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the tomatoes and mozzarella then toss to coat.
When it’s time to eat, grill the marinated chicken over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes a side, or until cooked through.
Plate then top with a big scoop of the Caprese salad topping, and a heavy drizzle of balsamic reduction, and dig in!
Grilled Caprese Chicken with Basil Vinaigrette
Grilled Caprese Chicken with Basil Vinaigrette uses a fresh basil vinaigrette for both a chicken marinade and salad dressing. Fresh and tasty!
- 1-1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
- 4 small chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
- salt and pepper
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8oz mozzarella pearls
- For the Fresh Basil Vinaigrette/Marinade:
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, lightly packed
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small cloves)
- lots of salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pour vinegar into a saucepan then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium then simmer until the consistency is slightly thinner than maple syrup (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan for a moment when scraping a spatula across the bottom,) 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- For the Fresh Basil Vinaigrette/Marinade: add all ingredients except extra virgin olive oil to a food processor or blender then pulse to roughly chop the basil and garlic. Turn processor on then slowly stream in oil.
- Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper then add to a Ziplock back with half the vinaigrette/marinade. Marinate for 15 minutes or up to a 4 hours in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, combine cherry tomatoes and mozzarella pearls with the remaining vinaigrette in a large bowl.
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat then grill chicken for 3-4 minutes a side. Plate then top with cherry tomato and mozzarella topping and reduced balsamic vinegar.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Like I said, fun and flavorful, and feel-good food too. Enjoy!