End of June comes; Summer has officially begun. Kids are now running through sprinklers instead of running across the street to catch the bus at some ungodly hour of morning. The sounds of snow plows are replaced with the aggravating, yet nostalgic tunes of an ice cream truck. In the Summer, I stop scoffing at mason jars being used by wannabe hipsters and start yearning to fill one up with a cold drink. Summer brings a whole new realm of daylight. A period of time in which you can actually do things after work. I just got really deep about Summer, but as I grow older, I'm really starting to develop feelings for it. The hardships of Summer occur come August. While August brings in the highest temperatures and humidity (at least in Connecticut) it also brings in a wave of back to school sentiments. Take the Sunday night blues feeling and encapsulate it into an entire month. You're feeling fancy free in July, but in August the nerves start kicking it. Even as adults, we can get the feeling that something good is coming to a close. But God says NO! I'll give you one more thing to look forward to. The simple, often unappreciated fruit called, the tomato. Summer isn't over my friends. We still have the tomato.
The tomatoes in my dad's garden are just starting to reach full maturity and my basil plant can't wait. Poor basil has to endure an entire June and July without its trusty counterpart. Heck, mozzarella lives its whole life waiting for the two to three months where the trio can shine. My family says I personify inanimate things too much.
When the tomatoes are ripe, my go to meal is this Caprese chicken. This chicken recipe takes the traditional Caprese salad, and plants it on a chicken breast, making a meal. The best part about it is that it comes together in one pot. The second best thing about it is that it takes 30 minutes to whip it up. Move over Rachel Ray, I have the new 30 minute meal perfect for Summer.
4 chicken breasts
4 thick sliced of tomato (or a pint of cherry tomatoes diced)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 1 ounce slices of fresh mozzarella
6 leaves of fresh basil thinly sliced (plus more for garnish)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Mix together garlic powder and cumin. Season both sides of the chicken with spice mixture. Heat olive oil in a large skillet to medium high heat. Add chicken and brown for 5 - 8 minutes until there is no longer any pink showing. Remove from the pan. Add in garlic and saute until translucent, about 1 - 2 minutes. Add in balsamic vinegar and honey. Whisk together making sure to scrape up the browned bits from the ban. Reduce the heat to lower and simmer balsamic until the mixture starts to thicken, roughly 3 - 4 minutes. Continuing stirring while mixture is thickening. If using cherry tomatoes, add them into the pan and coat with the balsamic sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan and stir to coat with the balsamic glaze. If using sliced tomatoes, top the chicken with the tomatoes and a slice of mozzarella. Cover and let the cheese melt for 3 minutes. Add fresh basil and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and serve, making sure to drizzle remaining glaze in the pan over the chicken.