Friday, February 17, 2012

Fast Friday: Grilled balsamic chicken

TGIF!  I've had a pretty fun week reliving an exciting trip to the west coast, enjoying the first Valentine's Day with my husband, and getting back on the hamster wheel treadmill since the Pittsburgh marathon relay is a few months away now.  Delaying laundry, bills, and cleaning just one more night was a must because Thursday night TV with Matt is a top priority.  (Did you watch?  It was 90 minutes of pure comedic genius, if you ask me!)

In order to minimize cooking time (and the growls coming from my stomach) and maximize couch time, I whipped up a perfect grill dinner.  Yep, you read that correctly -- grill, baby!

But, really, you don't need a grill.  Use a skillet.  Use a Griddler.  Use an oven.  Use a neighbor's oven.  Do whatever you must do to get this on your dinner plate, folks.

I give you the first of hopefully many installments of Fast Friday recipes: Grilled balsamic chicken with mozzarella and pesto!

I'm always looking for quick and easy recipes for chicken, and this one definitely earned its spot at the top of my mental list.  Four common ingredients (like the cheesecake stuffed strawberries!), marinade and forget it prep, and stir-free cooking.  Yum!

Store-bought pesto is truly a pantry/refrigerator hero in my book.  Add a little to pasta, soup, atop a protein, even mixed in with vegetables, and said dish gets an instant upgrade.  And a little goes a long way... unless you have a pesto gnome living in your house who likes to sample the stuff by the spoonful.  Ahem.

Who knew that a basically calorie-free marinade could pack such lasting flavor with chicken?  I've tried many marinades and some just don't cut it, barely leaving any flavor imprint on the chicken at all.

But, as you can see, that humble balsamic vinegar made quite the impression!

Sweet and tangy, it's definitely my favorite kind of vinegar.  It'll be yours, too, after you taste this.  I guarantee it.  I could've stopped and plated that chicken along side my veggies and garlic bread and been one very happy diner, but you know that I didn't stop.  I added some mozzarella cheese and pesto.  Sweet heavens!

Ooey gooey melted stringy mozzarella cheese and salty fragrant pesto.  Maybe this dish was actually the inspiration for the Italian flag.  It should be, anyway! The red-ish vinegar, white cheese, and green pesto.  Totally worth staking your country's reputation on it, if you ask me.

One year ago: Chicken burgers with garlic rosemary mayonnaise
Two years ago: Double chocolate cookies

Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Pesto
(adapted slightly from Eat, Live, Run's recipe on PBS)
-serves 2

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tablespoons of pesto, homemade or store-bought

Place chicken and balsamic vinegar in a large plastic bag. Seal bag tightly and place in fridge to marinate for one hour. (Don’t marinate this recipe overnight because over a long period of time, the acid in the vinegar may break down the chicken breast, forming a mushy texture.)

After chicken breasts have finished marinating, preheat grill (or prepare grill pan on the stove, or oven to 400 degrees F). Grill chicken breasts until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes per side (about 15-20 minutes total in oven).  Remove chicken and place on a plate.

Turn broiler on high and top each chicken breast with mozzarella.  Place chicken breasts on a foil-covered sheet tray and broil until until cheese melts and bubbles.  Top each chicken breast with a dollop of pesto.  Serve immediately with garlic bread and broccoli (what we did) and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. This looks amazing! I love pesto. Thanks for visiting my blog :)