Thursday, August 12, 2010
Caprese Salad is one of my Top 10 favorite summer foods. I love the simplicity of it: the smooth fresh mozzarella, ripe-from-the-vine tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil mingling with the sharp balsamic vinegar, and just a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I love the fact that it seems sophisticated but really anybody who can operate a knife can execute this dish in minutes. Caprese Salad is a perfect marriage of flavors and textures that just makes me breathe a happy sigh and smile...especially when I enjoy it on the comfort of my shaded back porch in the late summer twilight. You've probably heard the saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I didn't think that it was impossible to improve upon the Caprese Salad. However, when I came across this Chicken Caprese Salad on Tasty Kitchen, I had to give it a try. The chicken does take away from the simplicity of this salad as it needs to be pounded, filled, rolled, baked, and sliced. Chicken certainly makes for a heartier salad too. One of the aspects that I enjoy about a traditional Caprese Salad is it's "lightness". In the late summer heat, hearty meals aren't usually my goal. That said, I really enjoyed the way that this chicken was prepared. It's filled with ricotta or mascarpone and pesto, then brushed with olive oil. The flavor was wonderful! This salad was definitely a treat.
The recipe begins with a single chicken breast. Kay, the author of this recipe says that she often makes 4-6 of these rolled chicken breasts at a time, freezing them for later. I loved her idea to use them in other recipes, like baked in marinara and smothered in cheese. I'm definitely going to try that this fall!
Pound the chicken breast to about 1/4" thickness.
The next part is easy, just stir together some prepared pesto and ricotta or mascarpone cheese. (I used ricotta).
Then spread the pesto/cheese mixture evenly over the chicken breast.
Roll up the breast, starting with one of the short ends, then secure with cooking string. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. I baked mine ahead of time and popped it into the fridge until I was ready to assemble my salad. According to Kay, the chicken slices better when cool.
When dinner time rolled around, I sliced a ball of fresh mozzarella (purchased at ALDI!) and arranged it on a plate. I ended up with 6 thick slices. I arranged them like a flower. One in the center and then five "petals" around it. My kids ate the smaller leftover ends of the mozzarella. Can you blame them? YUM! Then I piled on some Roma tomato slices that I brought back with me from my visit home last week.
The recipe recommended that I "choose tomatoes about the same diameter as your chicken log." This wasn't really an option with those Roma tomatoes, so I just piled everything on the plate. For individual servings, it would be cool to just plate a nice big slice of tomato, then mozzarella, then chicken...OR mozzarella, then tomato, then chicken...whatever...and sprinkle with basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Think backyard dinner party...
Just look at these tomatoes! So perfectly ripe! They were sweet and delicious.
Next, I arranged the sliced chicken over the tomatoes and drizzled the whole thing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I gave it a sprinkle of salt and pepper too.
Here's a close-up of one of the chicken slices. Just look at that yummy, cheesy pesto rolled up inside!
It wouldn't be a Caprese Salad without basil. To finish it all off, chop up some basil and sprinkle it over the whole thing. Now....ENJOY!
Chicken Caprese Salad submitted by kayb on Tasty Kitchen
•1 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Filet
•2 Tablespoons Pesto
•2 Tablespoons Mascarpone Or Ricotta
•3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Divided
•½ teaspoons Salt
•½ teaspoons Freshly Ground Pepper
•4 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella
•2 whole Medium Tomatoes
•2 dashes Balsamic Vinegar
•4 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Basil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pound chicken breast to between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, and trim to a rough rectangular shape. Pat dry with paper towels. Mix pesto and mascarpone or ricotta, and spread to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Starting at a short side, roll the cutlet up and tie in two places with kitchen string. Brush the outside with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.(Note: I usually do 4 to 6 of these at a time; you can freeze them, or use them as-is for a different entree, with marinara sauce and cheese.)
Bake for about 20-25 minutes; remove from the oven, tent, and allow to cool completely. This can be done well ahead of time and refrigerated; they slice better.
To assemble: choose tomatoes about the same diameter as your chicken “log.” Slice the log, the tomatoes and the mozzarella in 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange alternating slices on a plate in staggered layers. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with fresh basil.