This healthy baked caprese chicken is loaded with juicy tomatoes, basil and melty mozzarella cheese. The sauce reduces into the perfect balsamic reduction!
It’s so close to summer I can taste it. The lettuce beds are coming up nicely in our new greenhouse and beds are being amended so we can transfer in starts and plant beans. My grandma gifted us a chicken coop that we are working on rebuilding so that chickens can soon be clucking around our backyard again.
And the smells. Fresh cut grass and wet earth after that late afternoon shower. Barbeques getting fired up again, wafting smoke through the neighborhood. And basil…nothing screams summer like that smell.
Every time I smell it all I want to do is make a caprese salad with a big juicy summer tomato and mozzarella and smother it in balsamic reduction.
I live in a household of men though and meat is a necessity for them. So this caprese chicken was born and came back with full approval on all counts. And what’s best is that it is so super easy.
Chicken thighs get married with balsamic vinegar and honey in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
I am obligated to say that yes you can use chicken breasts, but the reality is a thigh is so much tastier and it’s amazingly forgiving when you are juggling getting everyone to the table in a reasonable time frame.
Brown rice penne pasta is our go to pasta for dishes like this. Keeps the tummy’s happy without the refined wheat flour and is just as delicious as regular pasta (I promise! This is not a “oh it’s good for gluten-free swap”).
Tomatoes, basil and glorious fresh mozzarella cheese get sliced up. Once the chicken is done we reduce the sauce down in a small saucepan and whisk in a smidge of cornstarch to speed things up. If you aren’t in a rush though you totally can omit the cornstarch and just let it simmer down for 20-30 min and reduce on it’s own.
And the glorious harmony happens. Momma is happy and the boys are satisfied. Win win!
- 4 chicken thighs (I used bone in, skin on but you can use boneless skinless)**
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tomatoes
- ¼ cup of basil, sliced
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella (I buy the biggest ball I can find because...yum)
- shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 package pasta (we like brown rice penne pasta)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
- Add chicken thighs, balsamic and honey to cooking dish. Drizzle the honey over the chicken thighs to help caramelize the tops but don't stress over making it perfect as it melts anyways.
- Bake at 350 uncovered until cooked through, about 30 minutes if thawed fully, longer if partially frozen.
- Cut tomatoes into 4 slices and then dice remaining.
- Cook pasta per directions.
- Remove chicken from oven and pour off sauce into small pot.
- Chicken thighs can be broiled for a few minutes if you prefer crispy skin. Then top with tomato slice and mozzarella slice and broil until cheese is melted.
- If in a hurry mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon room temperature balsamic vinegar and whisk until lump free. Add to sauce from chicken, whisking it in. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- If not in a hurry the sauce can be reduced down slowly over medium heat until thick which takes about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally at first, and more regularly towards end to keep from burning. It does omit somewhat acidic smelling fumes so keep your exhaust fan on during the process.
- Serve each piece over pasta with sauce, additional diced tomatoes, basil and parmesan cheese.