Did you do a double take?
In this season of slow cooker soups and hearty comfort food, you might be wondering what in the heck this fresh take on a summer classic is doing on the bloggity blog right smack dab in the middle of winter?
Personally, I can think of no better time. Even if you can’t ditch the snow shovel yet, you can still eat like it’s all sunshine and tan lines. Because soon enough, it will be.
I am a huge fan of anything caprese. The fresh flavors of sweet tomatoes, sliced mozzarella cheese, basil draped in balsamic anything and everything and a drizzle of fruity olive oil. If you’re looking for caprese recipes here on FoodieCrush, you’ll see the combo is pretty much my fave. And judging by your response to them, you’re digging them too.
These days, fresh tomatoes are pretty easy to come by all year long. Summer sports fresh ‘maters at farmer’s markets and of course there’s the labor of love of harvesting them straight from your own garden.
But wintertime can pose a new set of challenges, so unless you live under the sunny skies of California or Florida, your best bet is to head to the market and hope for the best.
At certain times of the winter I can find plastic containers of potted basil plants in the produce section of my grocery store. As soon as I spy them, I pick one or two up and plant in a container to keep on my counter. Not only is it convenient for fresh cooking, but it gives a perk of brightness to an otherwise dreary winter view.
About the recipe
During the winter months, I choose medium-size campari tomatoes that I find at Costco. They seem to pack the most flavor, are sold in clusters clinging to the vine and are reminiscent of the sweetness of summer. A healthy sprinkle of kosher salt brings out their sweetness even more.
For the chicken you’ll only need two breasts to make four sandwiches. Slicing it after grilling on either the grill or stove makes it go a long way for sandwich making. Marinating the chicken in a quick olive oil and lemon flavored soak infueses a bit of flavor and moisture. Be sure to cook your chicken to 185 degrees internal temperature, and cover and rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing to keep those juices in the meat, where it belongs.
I used rosemary flavored bread for another layer of herby flavor. Grilling the bread on the grill or grill pan gives these open faced sandwiches a great contrast with crunchy texture.
Regular balsamic vinegar is a classic dressing for the caprese, but one of my favorite toppers for this sandwich is a sweet balsamic glaze. I always keep this one stocked in my cupboard. It’s so much more convenient than making my own.
And then there’s the cheese. Delicious mozzarella cheese. While I’m at Costco getting my tomatoes, I’ll usually pick up a two-pack of Wisconsin mozzarella cheese and save the other log for pizza making.
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
- ½ lemon, juiced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 10 ounce loaf of sourdough bread (I used rosemary flavored), cut in half lengthwise
- 1 8 ounce log fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 10-12 medium size or campari tomatoes, about 11 ounces
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
- Mix 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Add the chicken breasts and and turn to coat and let the chicken stand at room temperature.
- Light a grill and set to high or prepare a grill pan on the stove and heat to medium high heat. Discard the marinade and add the chicken to the grill or pan and season with more salt and pepper. After about 3-4 minutes, turn the chicken breasts. Cook for another 3 minutes or until nice grill marks form. If on the grill, turn off one side of the grill and move chicken to that side, cover and cook until chicken has an internal temperature of 185 degrees. If on the stove, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until chicken has an internal temperature of 185 degrees. Slice the chicken and set aside.
- While chicken is cooking, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil to each cut side of the bread and grill until lightly browned.
- Cut the bread into 3 slices for each half. Layer each slice with 3-4 slices of chicken, a few slices of mozzarella cheese and top with tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar or glaze and top with basil leaves. Season with more salt and pepper and serve.
Caprese Is for Lovers
Simplicity makes it that much easier to share for tomato, mozzarella and basil lovers. Toss these recipes around for even more love to share.
Grilled Caprese Skewers
Avocado Caprese Wrap
Quinoa and Burrata Caprese Salad
Caprese Sandwich with Arugula and Olive Spread
Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Salad
Avocado Caprese Salad
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Make it a great day, friends and cook something seasonal and good.
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