Ah yes, the eternal struggle: what to cook for dinner? Enter chicken Caprese!
Everyone with a day job knows just how frustrating it can be to come home, tired after a long day at the office, and still have to struggle with knocking out a fresh, delicious, and healthy meal for their family.
We should know – it’s something we experience quite often.
Luckily for you (and us), we have just the recipe for you: chicken Caprese with a balsamic glaze!
Yup, this quick and easy recipe brings together convenience and homey comfort (who doesn’t love a succulent grilled chicken breast), spruced up with the vibrant flavors of a freshly-made Caprese salad. The ingredients are easy to find at your local grocery or supermarket, the prep is easy, and the cooking time is quick.
What is a Balsamic Glaze Made Of?
A balsamic glaze is a mixture of balsamic vinegar and sweetener cooked low and slow to reduce the liquid, making it darker and turning the consistency syrup-like. The cooking process also intensifies the sweet and sour notes of the balsamic vinegar. You can choose different sweeteners such as sugar, honey, or even maple syrup, which will be used in this recipe. As the name suggests, a balsamic glaze is often brushed on the surface of the food (chicken, in the case) to coat it and add a layer of flavor and texture.
Is a Balsamic Glaze the same as a Balsamic Reduction?
While most people often interchange these two terms, they are technically different. Balsamic glazes are cooked for a long time over a slow heat, and the goal is to reduce the liquid to produce a syrup-like consistency. On the other hand, a balsamic reduction is made by simply simmering the vinegar for around 20 minutes. You can also add some aromatics like garlic, onions, and chilies to make it more flavorful and give the reduction a little more kick.
What is Italian Seasoning Made Of?
If you’re looking for a way to accentuate the flavor of grilled chicken without overpowering it, one of the best herbs to use is Italian seasoning. However, Italian seasoning is not composed of just one herb. It’s a blend of dried up herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, and marjoram. These herbs are typically used to flavor Italian dinner recipes with chicken, hence the name.
How to Pick Out Basil Leaves?
If you have fresh basil leaves that you bought from the supermarket, you probably need to pick out ones that don’t quite make the cut. Picking out wilted or dried leaves is easy; simply look for ones that don’t have the vibrant green hue and springiness. Wilted leaves can look darker or lighter, and have a dried-out texture. You can still use wilted basil leaves, but they don’t add much as flavor.
How Can You Tell if Your Chicken is Bad?
There are several ways to tell if the chicken has gone bad. One indicator is the color of the chicken. Fresh chicken is pink, while old and expired chicken will have a gray or green color. Another sign is the smell. If it smells sour or like ammonia, the chicken is not safe for consumption. Finally, you can also check if there is a layer of slimy liquid on your chicken breasts. Anyone of these signs means that you need to throw out the chicken immediately.
Should I Marinade my Chicken?
The answer is always YES, especially if you are using chicken breasts. Chicken breasts don’t have a lot of flavor to them, so marinating them ahead of time will infuse a lot of flavor into the meat. What’s more, chicken breasts don’t have a lot of fat to them either so that they can dry out pretty quickly. Marinating the chicken helps prevent dry and tasteless chicken breasts. Check out this quick and easy marinade recipe here.
Chicken Caprese with Balsamic Glaze
This scrumptious stovetop recipe brings together two vast worlds: moist grilled chicken and light, fresh, and tangy Caprese. The tartness of the tomatoes, the sweetness of the balsamic glaze, and the salty creaminess of the mozzarella just come together to make the perfect match with the smokiness of the grilled chicken. Be warned though; you’ll probably end up making this over and over because it’s probably going to become a family favorite!
Chicken Caprese Recipe (with a Balsamic Glaze) – This is a recipe that you will want to make every week for dinner!
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 chicken breasts, deboned, skinned, butterflied, and pounded thin
- 1 t. Italian seasoning
- ½ t. Garlic powder
- ½ c. balsamic vinegar
- 2 t. pure maple syrup
- 1 c. grape tomatoes
- ½ small red onion
- 8 oz. miniature mozzarella balls
- ¼ c. fresh basil leaves
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Prepare all the ingredients first. Cut the grape tomatoes into quarters, finely dice the red onion, and slice the basil leaves into thin strips. You should also drain the mozzarella balls and put them aside.
- Place olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. As the skillet heats up, season the prepared chicken breasts with the garlic powder and Italian seasoning, making sure to coat both sides evenly. Add to the hot skillet and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through, around 3-4 minutes per side.
- While the chicken is cooking, mix the balsamic vinegar and the maple syrup in a small saucepan and set it over medium heat. Simmer until the mixture thickens and darkens in color, approximately 5-6 minutes. Keep stirring until the liquid is reduced by half.
- In a medium-sized but deep bowl, toss together the grape tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella balls, and the basil leaves. Mix until well-combined, and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
- After the chicken is done cooking, remove the skillet from the heat and place it on a cool burner. While still in the skillet, top each chicken breast with the mozzarella and tomato mixture and cover for a couple of minutes. The residual heat from the chicken will warm the tomatoes and melt the mozzarella balls slightly.
- Serve! Transfer the chicken carefully from the skillet to individual plates, making sure that the tomato mixture doesn’t fall off. Top with a bit more tomato mixture, drizzle with the balsamic glaze and enjoy.
Tip: Keep it clean! Use two layers of sturdy plastic wrap to “sandwich” your chicken breasts before pounding them with a mallet or rolling pin. This way, you’ll prevent the raw juices from flying everywhere, AND you’ll have perfectly flat chicken breasts every time. You want to pound the chicken breasts to around a ½ inch thick.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
What if I Can’t Find Miniature Mozzarella Balls?
Sometimes, you won’t be able to find miniature mozzarella balls at your local grocery. That’s okay! You can purchase a block of mozzarella cheese and use a non-flavored floss to cut through the cheese easily. This way, you won’t squish the soft mozzarella.
What Can I Serve this With?
While this dish is a filling meal on its own, there’s no reason why you can’t take things a step further and make a few side dishes if you have a bit of time on your hands (or you REALLY want to impress your friends and family). Serve it with a side like this amazing Asian slaw, and call your meal Easts meets West fusion!
IMPORTANT: There’s a Proper Way to Handle Raw Poultry!
Since you will be handling raw chicken, you need to do it properly to avoid food poisoning. You might be tempted to wash the breasts before you pound and cook them. DON’T. Washing chicken causes water to splash around, and this can spread bacteria all over your kitchen counter, sink, and even your raw ingredients! This is why you should always make sure that you purchase your raw chicken from a reputable butcher or supermarket. They use the proper storage and refrigeration techniques to keep your raw chicken clean and ready for cooking without the need to wash the meat.
Bonus time: it’s one of those chicken breast dinner ideas that you can whip up ahead of time and store in the fridge to let the flavors really get to know each other. You’d be amazed at how much depth of flavor this dish can develop after storing it ahead of time in your fridge.
In fact, you might even argue that the dish tastes better if you make it ahead of time even if the mozzarella gets a little cold. You just heat it up a little bit to soften the mozzarella, and it’s ready to amaze your friends and family.