Delicious warm or cold, this Caprese chicken salad is the ultimate summer dinner. Choose ripe, high-quality tomatoes for this. Mozzarella cheese is traditional for Caprese salad, but this is equally delicious with feta and creamy goat cheese. We prefer to leave balsamic vinegar out since it’s so strong it overwhelms the taste of the tomatoes. However, if the tomatoes you use are not at their best, balsamic vinegar or a balsamic glaze drizzled on top is a good option for adding sweetness (sherry vinegar is also nice).
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, for cooking
3/4 pound ripe tomatoes, at room temperature
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
2 cups baby spinach leaves
Combine lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper flakes in a resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken breasts, seal the bag, and then move the chicken around the marinade so that it is completely coated. Marinate 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
When ready to cook, brush extra garlic from the chicken and pat dry. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan (with lid) over medium-high heat. As soon as the oil is hot and looks shimmery, add the chicken. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden. Flip, reduce heat to low then cover with lid. Cook 10 to 20 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Transfer chicken to a plate then cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, slice, and then serve with the caprese salad.
About 20 minutes before serving make the caprese salad. Chop tomatoes into bite-size chunks then add to a medium bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add olive oil, stir then set aside for 15 minutes so that the tomatoes release some juices. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper. Tear or cube the mozzarella cheese and stir into the tomatoes.
To serve, make a bed of spinach on a plate, add the sliced chicken then spoon a generous amount of the tomatoes and mozzarella on top. Drizzle some of the liquid left at the bottom of the bowl over the salad. Finish with torn basil leaves and enjoy.