Aug 032010
Summer is my favorite food season.  Oh, you didn’t know there were food seasons?  Well there are.  And as much as I love pomegranate and sweet potatoes in the fall, a hearty soup in the winter, and asparagus in the spring, nothing beats summer food in my mind.  Fresh corn, tomatoes, and basil, in particular, make many appearances in my summer menus.  This is a great summer meal with bbq feel without the bbq (although you can make it on one if you have that luxury).  And because every ones always looking for a perfect basic grilled chicken, here’s an amazing AND simple marinade and a great salad to go with.

Since the salad is a little more high maintenance of these 2 recipes, I put that together first.  Scratch that…make the marinade, throw the chicken in it, and then go to the salad.  I used baby heirloom tomatoes because they’re awesome.   

Then I cubed some fresh mozzarella, added to the tomatoes, and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  Cut a whole wheat baguette into 1 inch cubes, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes with a shake half way through.  This is the “pan” in our panzanella.

But the real key to this caprese panzanella is the fresh basil vinaigrette which pulls in all the necessary flavors.  It’s easy to make other than the need for a food processor.  Toss together the crisp bread cubes, tomatoes, mozzarella and dressing right before serving.  Trust me…this is SO good. 

And the chicken.  While more subtle than the salad, also SO good.  I made it on my george forman grill this time but I’ve also grilled it outside before.  You’ll be shocked by how the marinade makes really flavorful, moist chicken which is usually mythical when it comes to grilled chicken.  When you’re looking for something simple to go with your more intricate side dishes,  sayyy caprese panzanella and sauteed corn, this chicken is my go to.

Nutritional Highlights:  These organic chicken breasts are a great source of protein and the marinade is very low in fat.  The panzanella is a very balanced side, with vitamins in the tomatoes, calcium and protein from the cheese, and whole grains from the bread.  Like a one stop shop when it comes to side dishes.  Plus, the basil vinaigrette makes everything so fresh and summery.  You could mix sweet corn into the salad too, but I served some on the side.  All these ingredients are fresh from the farmers market, meaning local, meaning just off the vine, meaning peak nutritional value.  This is why you should eat local.

Amazing Grilled Chicken Marinade:
Adapted from

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I’ve also used white wine vinegar instead before)
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (recipe called for 1/2 but I didn’t want it too sweet)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast halves
Directions: Mix all ingredients and pour in ziplock bag with chicken breasts.  Poke holes in chicken using a fork so marinade can penetrate.  Let sit in fridge for as at minimum 2 hours, but more is more here people.  Grill on outdoor or indoor grill and enjoy!!

Caprese Panzanella with Basil Vinaigrette

  • Small whole wheat baguette
  • Tomatoes, any kind you like, I used heirloom babies
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Cut baguette into 1 inch cubes and toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Spread onto foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, shaking pan half way until bread cubes are lightly browned and crunchy.
2.  Cut tomatoes in half (or smaller if you get full sized tomatoes) and combine with cubed fresh mozzarella (you can also buy the pre fab mini balls if you don’t want to have to cut it).  Season with salt and pepper.
3.  Prepare the Basil vinaigrette by combining last 6 ingredients in the food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Such a pretty green result.  
4.  Before serving, toss bread cubes with tomatoes, mozzarella, and dressing and serve!

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