Summer in a Pan: Cheesy Brushetta Chicken Breasts
Before you say 'hold on, nope' or something as scholarly-inclined as this, let me reassure you: yes, this recipe has a bunch of little steps in different skillets and pans, but some of my steps are definitely avoidable (I just like to be extra in general) and I will be happy to tell you which steps are a tad much. Stick around, this was incredibly delicious and easy to create!!! It tasted like a deluxe appetiser met my favourite pasta dish with a huge slap of summer. I bet you all the fresh herbs in the world that 'slap of summer' is most definitely not a thing. But if felt right.
You can create this meal with as many chicken breasts as you wish and freeze your portions aka do not take your baby's sleep schedule for granted, *plan ahead, mama*. I wish I had time to create posts and photography for the 20 recipes that go through my mind daily but being a full-time worker and a full-time mama is no joke. At least the motherhood part is ultra gratifying! I will be posting a weekly recipe until things get more settled work-wise- I do miss this process dearly.
You will need,
Cherry tomatoes (2 cups, chopped- I kept around 10 full ones to sautée on their own for extra texture in the bowls, an option)
Basil leaves (a handful, chopped)
Mozzarella cheese (1 cup, enough to cover your chicken with 2 layers- I slice it thinly vs. shredding)
Thyme (2 tbsp of the leaves, for chicken rub)
Flour (3/4 cup, or enough to cover your chicken breasts entirely)
Olive oil (3+tbsp, go wild)
Sea salt (a generous pinch)
Black pepper (for taste)
Garlic (3 cloves, minced)
Balsamic vinegar (2 tbsp- mine was apple-infused, it added a crisp, sweet punch to the dish)
Optional: Marinara (3/4 cup)
A few easy steps,
1. In a medium-sized bowl, rub chicken breasts with olive oil, thyme leaves, vinegar, black pepper and sea salt. Transfer them to a plate covered in flour and turn them a few times until they are coated evenly.
2. In a skillet over medium-high, cook chicken breasts on both side for 5-7 minutes (depending on their thickness, but do remember that they will go in the oven for an additional 10 minutes later).
3. In a separate skillet over medium heat, toss cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil leaves with olive oil and salt-pepper. You need less than 5 minutes for the tomatoes to soften and the basil-garlic combo to come alive. Set aside.
4. Optional: in a separate skillet, I also added whole cherry tomatoes with a a few drops of olive oil and salt. I let them sit for 2-3 minutes and tossed around until they looked like they were about to burst. I then removed them from the heat. It dimply adds texture to your bowl, so if you have the extra few minutes: go right ahead!
5. In a lightly oiled baking dish, add chicken breasts topped with the bruschetta mix (optional: cover with marinade before adding the cheese, I was simply out and it came out great, not dry at all!). Add 2 layers of mozzarella strips (or a generous handful of shredded mozzarella).
6. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted to your desired texture and the the chicken has cooked through (again, depending on the thickness of the chicken).
7. While the cheese melts, cook and drain your pasta. Put back into the empty pot you used to cook it.
8. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to the pasta and mix thoroughly. Once the chicken is ready, scoop the bruschetta mixture from the baking pan and toss into the pasta.
9. Serve each portion with a chicken breast on top as well as extra basil leaves and the grilled cherry tomatoes. Optional: sprinkle Parmesan (I personally prefer to stick to mozzarella as that fresh tomatoes and basil combination is the true star).