Here is an Italian dinner made in one pan in less than one hour. Easy, quick and delicious. Caprese is classically a red ripe tomato, a fresh slice of mozzarella, and a big leaf of fresh basil. Beautifully arranged on a platter and then sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and good quality extra virgin olive oil. And then a sprinkle of dried Italian spice to top. My Caprese is freshly made marinara sauce highlighted with lemon zest and fresh basil. And then topped with a boneless skinless chicken breast that has been pan browned to seal in the juices. I precook the chicken sprinkled with dried Italian spices and a bit of sugar to seal in the juices and caramelize the chicken. This one pan Caprese rings true with the chicken topped with fresh basil and a thick slice of mozzarella cheese.The dish comes together by melting the cheese into the chicken in the bed of marinara sauce. I love to serve this with a portion of pasta on the bottom and then a topping of the saucy chicken Caprese. Of course a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano is the finale.
I love Cento organic San Marzano DOP whole tomatoes lightly crushed for this dish. These tomatoes are so sweet with no acid at all. —Lorraine Fina Stevenski
boneless skinless chicken breasts, 3/4" thick
dried Italian spices, your choice
each, fine sea salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
FOR THE SAUCE:
sweet onion, finely chopped
whole garlic cloves, finely minced
fresh basil, coarsely chopped
fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped, plus more for finishing the dish
fine sea salt
red pepper flakes, or more if you like heat
-28 ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes, I love Cento Organic San Marzano
zest of one lemon
-8 ounce ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 8 slices
BROWN THE CHICKEN: Sprinkle the chicken breasts on both sides with dried Italian spices, salt, pepper and cane sugar. Heat a high sided 12" skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. On medium high heat, brown the chicken on both sides. It will continue to cook in the sauce. Set aside on a plate.
MAKE THE SAUCE: In the same skillet, reserve all the olive oil and chicken drippings, maintain the heat on medium high.
Add the chopped onions, chopped garlic, basil, parsley, sea salt and red pepper flakes. Stir just until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, crush with a potato masher and then stir to combine all the ingredients. Stir in the lemon zest. Simmer medium heat, lightly covered, for about 15 minutes.
TOP THE CHICKEN: Maintain the heat for the sauce on medium heat. On top of the sauce, in one layer, add the browned chicken. Top with a few fresh basil leaves on each piece of chicken, a slice of mozzarella and a sprinkle of dried Italian spices. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the mozzarella is nicely melted.
Serve with a portion of sauce and a piece of chicken over pasta if you like. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the plate.