For juicy, tender chicken breasts remember these three things: marinate first, bake loosely covered, and use a meat thermometer. In our photos, we show baking 2 chicken breasts, but the marinade shared below is enough for 4 chicken breasts. The chicken does not need to be completely immersed in the marinade, just coated by it. If you plan to double the recipe, simply double the amount of chicken, tomatoes, and the mozzarella. We marinate the chicken breasts in a magical mixture of red wine vinegar, garlic, and basil before baking in the oven. If you’re short on time, marinate as close to an hour as you can. If you’re flexible, go for a whole two hours. The flavors will intensify. And since we want to keep things safe, it’s best to marinate the chicken in the refrigerator (no matter how long you do it for).
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
1 bunch fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like things
3 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a large knife or minced
2 cups tomatoes, cut to rough 1-inch chunks (leave cherry tomatoes whole)
1/4 cup torn fresh mozzarella cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove basil leaves from stalks and set the stalks aside. Roughly chop the basil leaves so that you have about 1/4 cup. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper together until the salt has dissolved. Stir in the garlic and basil. Refrigerate and use within 1 to 2 hours.
Add chicken breasts to the marinade and marinate for 1 hour and up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil one side of a sheet of parchment paper that is large enough to cover the baking dish. (Aluminum foil can also be used).
Add the basil stalks set aside from earlier to a baking dish large enough to fit the chicken breasts arranged in one layer. Add the tomatoes then toss with 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Nestle the chicken breasts down into the tomatoes, allowing the tomatoes to gather up the sides of each chicken breast. Throw the garlic cloves from the marinade into the baking dish then cover the dish with parchment paper. Loosely tuck the parchment paper around the chicken.
Bake until the chicken is opaque all the way through and an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Check for doneness around 25 minutes then go from there. Most chicken breasts will take 35 to 40 minutes.
Scatter mozzarella on top of each breast then broil on high for about a minute or until the cheese melts. Serve the chicken with the baked tomatoes, juices from the bottom of the baking dish, and more torn basil leaves.