Tag Archives: fresh basil

Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

A Caprese Salad is the perfect accompaniment to grilled summer meats: chicken, steaks, pork, even hamburgers. Made with summer fresh tomatoes and basil, fresh mozzarella, and a reduced balsamic glaze, it just screams summer and healthy eating.

Caprese Salad 1

I like to make a “chopped” version of the salad with various cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella pearls. I drizzle this with some extra-virgin olive oil and serve the balsamic reduction on the side so that the tomatoes and cheese don’t soak up too much vinegar before serving.

I love these little “mozzarella pearls”. They are perfectly bite-sized:

Image result for mozzarella pearls   Pearls

If you are short on time, you can serve this with straight balsamic vinegar, but it is so worth the little time it takes to reduce the vinegar to a stronger syrupy consistency. I usually reduce an entire bottle of vinegar and then store the left-overs  in the refrigerator. You can also infuse some delicious flavors into your reduction while you are at it, things like fresh herbs and garlic. Some people add additional honey or sweetener to the reduction, but I find balsamic vinegar to be plenty sweet without additional sweetener.

If you don’t want to do the chopped version of this salad, you can also make it in the more traditional format with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella:

Caprese Salad 3

Tomorrow we officially begin our summer break (after a final half-day of school). This salad will be a frequent side dish on our table.

Caprese Salad 2

RECIPE:

Chopped Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad 2

2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup mozzarella pearls
¼ cup fresh basil, sliced in thin strips (chiffonade)
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
about ¼ cup  Balsamic Reduction

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil in a serving dish. Season with salt and pepper. Serve Balsamic Reduction on the side to be drizzled over salad just before eating.

Balsamic Reduction

1 (16 oz) bottle balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey, optional (I DO NOT add honey)
2 whole cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
1-2 sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano)

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until vinegar reduces by about half and thickens to a thin syrup. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Remove garlic, bay leaf, and herbs (strain if necessary). Cool. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 cup glaze

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Appetizers, Salads, Side Dishes

Artichoke Basil Chicken

Artichoke Basil Chicken 1

This chicken dish is healthy, delicious, and quick to put together for a weeknight meal. And since I just planted our garden, we have lots of fresh basil ready to use. I love cooking with fresh summer herbs and vegetables.

The chicken is quickly browned and then topped with Parmesan, chopped artichokes, tomatoes, and fresh basil.

Artichoke Basil Chicken 3

Bake for about 30 minutes and then top with fresh mozzarella and broil until melted. More fresh basil takes this from ordinary to amazing. (Ignore the one corner of this photo with no cheese: the child this piece of chicken will serve is very inconsistent with her likes/dislikes)

Artichoke Basil Chicken 4

We eat this on its own, but you could also serve pasta on the side to soak up some of the amazing juices.

Artichoke Basil Chicken 2

I use these artichokes almost exclusively when a recipe calls for artichokes. They are just the best part of the artichoke: all heart, no leaves. You get 7-9 hearts in each can. I love that there are no tough leaves. (They recently changed the can label: Left=old; Right=new)

Artichoke Bottoms

 

RECIPE:

Artichoke Basil Chicken

Artichoke Basil Chicken 1

2 Tbs olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
Greek seasoning mix (or Italian seasoning)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbs white wine
1 can artichoke bottoms, cut into ½” chunks
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
3 Tbs fresh basil, sliced
4 Tbs grated fresh Parmesan
4 slices fresh mozzarella
4 Tbs fresh basil, sliced

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and sprinkle generously with Greek seasoning. Brown chicken on both sides (2-3 minutes per side; chicken should not be cooked through). Remove chicken from skillet and place in baking dish.

Add garlic to skillet and cook 1-2 minutes, or until browned. Stir in wine and chopped artichokes. Cook and deglaze pan until wine has reduced by about half. Add tomatoes to pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until hot. Stir in 3 Tbs fresh basil.

Top each chicken breast in the baking dish with 1 Tbs Parmesan cheese. Spoon artichoke mixture evenly over chicken. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Top with fresh mozzarella slices and broil for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Sprinkle with additional 4Tbs fresh basil and serve immediately.

1 Comment

Filed under Main Dishes