Baked Chicken Caprese


I love chicken, especially roasted chicken. One of my favorite chicken dishes is my Breaded Chicken Cutlets With Tomatoes & Arugula. This is my go to dish when I have limited time for cooking, but when I want to make something tasty and filling. We will be leaving Umbria in just a few weeks, and I am beginning to panic when I look into my freezer. I have a LOT of stuff to use up before we leave Italy in October!

I am a poultry lover and since we do not eat much if any red meat at home, we eat a lot of vegetables based meals, with some seafood and chicken thrown in once in a while. I apparently buy a lot of poultry on sale, because looking through my freezer last week I found a lot of chicken parts. Because I need to use up this chicken surplus, we have been eating a lot of it lately. This week I decided that I wanted to try something new, using up some of my chicken breasts, homemade pesto from the freezer, and some of the last of our cherry tomatoes from the garden. I also had two balls of buffalo mozzarella that I had to buy at the grocery a couple of days ago because they were so cheap. I could have simply served the mozzarella with the tomatoes as the first course in a Caprese salad, but I decided to throw my chicken and pesto into the mix as well.

I cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise, breaded them, and roasted them in the oven in my usual manner. I then topped the chicken with slices of buffalo mozzarella and broiled them just until the cheese got all melted and gooey. I then took the chicken out of the oven and drizzled it with some of my homemade pesto, then spooned on some sweet baby tomatoes that I had tossed with olive oil and minced garlic. The chicken was moist and tender, and the combination of melted mozzarella, fresh tasting pesto sauce, and sweet cherry tomatoes was a perfect topping! I always prefer making my own homemade breading mixture, but if you are short for time you can use a store bought version, but it does make a difference in the flavor though when you make your own. Buffalo mozzarella isn’t a necessity, and I used it simply because I had it on hand. Do buy a good quality brand of mozzarella. I wanted to use up my garden tomatoes so I use tiny cherry tomatoes, but any ripe, good tasting tomato will work just fine, just cut it into a small dice. If the chicken pieces are not an even thickness, you might want to use a meat mallet to create an equal thickness so they cook evenly.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2017

Baked Chicken Caprese

Ingredients:

For The Chicken:

  • 2 Medium to Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Halved Lengthwise
  • 3 Cups Stale Bread Cubes
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Grated Zest From 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Chopped Hot Red Chile Pepper (Optional)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

For The Tomato Topping:

  • 2 Cups Halved Cherry Tomatoes (Or 2 Cups Diced Ripe Tomatoes – See Notes Above)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, Finely Minced
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

To Assemble:

  • 1/3 Cup Homemade Basil Pesto
  • 2 Small Balls Buffalo Mozzarella, Sliced (Or 4 Slices Mozzarella)
  • Fresh Basil Leaves As Garnish

Directions:

  1. For the cutlets, place the bread cubes, lemon zest, chile pepper, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper in the food processor, and pulse until finely blended.
  2. Add the pine nuts and pulse just until the nuts are coarsely chopped and dump mixture into a shallow bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs in a separate shallow bowl.
  4. Working 1 piece of chicken at a time, dip into the eggs, and then breadcrumbs pressing down with your fingertips to help the crumbs adhere.
  5. Place the breaded cutlets on a baking sheet, and refrigerate the for 1 hour to allow the crumb coating to set.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato topping ingredients and set aside until needed.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  8. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil, then place the butter and oil on top.
  9. Place the pan in the oven for a few minutes to melt the butter.
  10. Turn the pan to coat evenly with the butter mixture, then place the chicken on top.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn and bake another 10 minutes until cooked through.
  12. Remove the chicken from the oven and place the mozzarella on top to cover.
  13. Turn the oven broiler to high, then return the pan to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  14. Place the chicken onto a platter, then drizzle with the pesto sauce and spoon the tomato mixture on top.
  15. Serve immediately.