I am always trying to come up with easy dinners that I can make in a short amount of time. One of my favorite ways to save time, and add tons of flavor to a meal is to add pesto. I use pesto in a number of ways from tossing it with chicken or veggies to add to pizza, pasta, or salad. I also use it to flavor bland items like chicken salad, farro salad, and crostini. I make it ahead of time, and always have some in my freezer. It is a quick and easy way to add flavor to any meal.
The three flavors that make up the classic caprese are some of my favorite. Basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. I like to use basil pesto to replace the fresh basil, like I did in A New Kind of Caprese Salad. With that idea in mind, I wanted to create a dinner idea that would include these flavors, but in a warm and comforting way. I LOVE roasting tomatoes in the oven. It softens them, which brings out their natural sweetness. The bright acidity of the tomatoes goes so well with the freshness of the basil pesto, and the creamy mozzarella. You can use shredded mozzarella, which is what I normally do, because I have it around. You can also cut, or tear, fresh mozzarella from the ball that it comes in, and place that over the chicken.
The idea is simple! Brown the chicken, toss in the tomatoes, cook it in the oven with the pesto, and finish it with the cheese. I like to top the baked chicken with fresh basil, because I think fresh herbs always add a nice bright finish.
These also make great leftovers. If you like to pack lunches for work or school, you can make a batch of this one night, and use the rest for lunches. Place the cold chicken and tomatoes over a salad, or warm it up for a comforting homemade lunch.
How to make perfect Skillet Caprese Chicken
*Bring your chicken to room temperature before cooking in the skillet. This will allow the chicken to cook evenly, and brown nicely.
*Make sure your chicken is dry. If it is too wet, then it will not brown as nicely!
*Season as you go! Add salt to the chicken before cooking, and add salt to the tomatoes when you add them to the skillet.
*Cook the chicken to 165 degrees for safety, but try not to cook it more than that to prevent it getting overcooked.
*Make sure to cut the tomatoes before cooking them. This will help them cook faster, and not pop in the oven.
*Finish with fresh herbs for added brightness!
Skillet Caprese Chicken
- 4-5 chicken breasts or chicken thighs; enough to fit into the pan without being crowded; room temperature
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes; cut in half
- basil pesto; use my recipe on From Scratch with Maria search "pesto"
- mozzarella cheese; shredded or whole
- fresh basil for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat
- Sprinkle the chicken with salt, and place the chicken in the skillet
- Cook until the side gets brown, and turn on the other side; don't worry about cooking it through, it will finish cooking in the oven
- Cover each piece of chicken with about 1 tablespoon or so of basil pesto
- Pour the tomatoes around the chicken
- Place the skillet into the oven for about 10 minutes
- Take the skillet out, and cover each piece of chicken with mozzarella, use as much as you like
- Place the skillet back in the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked though, 165 degree, the cheese has melted, and the tomatoes have softened
- Serve with fresh basil!