garlic basil chicken with caprese salsa

garlic chicken main

When it’s hot out, sometimes you just want something light and refreshing. Something that will fill you up without weighing you down. I realize it’s cooling down for the rest of the world, but here in AZ we’re still breaking triple-digit records. In fact, we just had the hottest August on record (go us).  This  dish fits the bill perfectly – the mozzarella salsa is simple and refreshing and tastes great alongside its basil chicken companion. I should have taken pictures of the dish assembled, or at least better pictures of the individual items, but it was an especially hectic day when we had this for dinner. Honestly, I am surprised I was able to snap any pictures at all.

Mom saw this recipe in Sunset magazine, and doggy-eared it for us to make together. I planned to pick mom up, stop by the store, and get to work cooking. Unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan. Mom decided she would meet at my house, so I went to the store solo after work. When I arrived home from the store, BF needed a ride to the car shop to pick up his car. When I called mom to tell her, turns out her hubby needed a ride to the Harley shop over there as well. So it turned into more of a pick BF up, pick mom’s hubby up, drop at respective shops, get home and then get to work… Oh crap, someone go pick up mom!

When I finally started cooking, I was already famished. I threw together a quick meat and cheese platter for me everyone to snack on while preparing dinner, since it was much later than we were used to eating. Thank goodness this meal came together so easily. It was surprisingly flavorful and filling, but without feeling heavy.

I halved the recipe because there were only four of us, and swapped boneless skinless chicken for the bone-in/skin-on that the original recipe called for. Also, since I was delusional with hunger, I only cut a few of the tomatoes and left the rest of them whole. Serve the salsa on top of (or under) the chicken, it’d also make a great caprese salad side all on its own.

Garlic Basil Chicken with Caprese Salsa
[Printable Version]
For the chicken:

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken breasts

For the “Salsa”

  • 1 qt. mixed colors cherry and/or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 oz. drained) fresh mozzarella balls (or torn mozza if you can’t find them)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  1. Make rub for chicken: Pulse basil, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor until roughly chopped and rub all over chicken. Let sit about 30 minutes (or just while you make your salsa).
  1. Make “salsa”: Stir together tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to combine; let stand 30 minutes.
  1. Grill chicken over med-high heat until cooked through (about 10 – 15 minutes) and transfer chicken to a platter. Tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve chicken on top of or covered in salsa.

[ Adapted from Sunset Magazine, July 2011 ]

in honor of summer fiestas – salsa

salsa main

I’ve been hiding this recipe for some time now from my friend, Rob. All that he wanted ever since I started blogging (and really, before I started blogging) was a good salsa recipe. I tried to blackmail him in exchange for him learning wp code and making me a beautiful, glorious webpage… but he held out. What a little turd, right? Oh well, I will give you this delicious salsa recipe anyway. Know why? Because I like you that much. (Close your eyes, Rob!)

I don’t blame him for needing a salsa recipe – I struggled with finding a good one for a long time. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t achieve that restaurant-y salsa that I so badly wanted. I finally just gave up, I could still make pico- and if I must resolve myself to a lifetime of fresh pico – so be it! Never in a thousand years would I have imagined the key to unlocking great tasting restaurant style salsa was in a can.

Crazy, right? All this time I thought it was the fresh ingredients, maybe some secret black market spices, I wasn’t quite sure. I was positive fresh ingredients were an important part… then I saw PW’s recipe. The only recipe that was different from all the ones I’d tried before – using canned tomatoes. Canned?!? I can honestly say that I never in my life thought I would put a can of “Ro-Tel” in my shopping cart, let alone two… I guess there’s a first time for everything… Now that I know the secret of the can, I can adapt this salsa recipe into pretty much endless variations (and now, so can you).

It makes a lot though – so invite some friends over to share. You need them or else you will eat it… all of it. You will just black out and wake up with an empty salsa container and no chips… you poor thing, you. You don’t even know what you’re in for… Congratulations on your new crack salsa addiction. :)

Restaurant-Style Salsa – Adapted from PW

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  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 1-2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies) OR if you are like my sister and are afraid of heat – you can just add 2 cans of diced tomatoes – no chiles!
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin (I used a little less)
  • 1/2 C cilantro
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

1. Throw everything in the blender, then process to desired consistency. Done-zo!

2. Salt & Pepper to taste, if you think it needs it.

Ok, that’s basically it, but since I like to make life more difficult and am maybe medium control-freak, I put the tomatoes only from the can of whole tomatoes, and reserved the liquid so that I could adjust the salsa to be as thick (or thin) as I wanted. Process without the liquid – then add the liquid in as you see fit (if you think it needs it)

Also, if you do ONLY canned tomatoes, you can use fresh peppers of any kind to your liking – which is better to control taste and heat than using Rotel