Now that we’re in the thick of summer I’m doing anything and everything in my power to keep the heat out of the house at dinner time. Grilling is my current go to, and my current favorite grilling recipe is this 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 materialized after throwing some leftovers together for dinner last week. I had extra basil dressing from our Earth Bowl Salads which I combined with fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes from the garden. 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 its tang when simmered and reduced, rendering it syrupy and sweet. So 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 salad 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 chicken topping which features sweet cherry tomatoes. I cannot get enough cherry tomatoes in the summertime and luckily my sweet 100 plant is currently dripping with them! 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.
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! Like I said, fun and flavorful, and feel-good-food too. Enjoy!
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Grilled Caprese Chicken
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.