The Mediterranean diet is well known for its promotion of healthful fats including olive oil, nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives and avocados along with fatty fish (salmon and tuna). It also emphasizes whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. I wrote about the Mediterranean diet about a year ago in my post HERE. A Boston-based non-profit organization called Oldways, whose main mission is to promote and preserve culinary traditions around the world and to combat problems associated with chronic diseases through traditional ways of eating, established May as Mediterranean Diet month. Now that’s a celebration in my book. I love these wonderful ingredients and how they combine into some of the most flavorful dishes on the planet while being essential to good health. I’ve added the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, created by Oldways which illustrates the heart-healthy and diabetes prevention foods we need to be including in our diets every day. I’m striving to pattern the balance of Inside Karen’s Kitchen after this model. I think I do more chicken than fish, but it’s a goal. How does your diet match up?
You can see that it’s based on colorful, fresh and healthy foods you won’t find in boxes or convenience stores. I love the emphasis on non-food behaviors including daily physical activity and enjoying meals with others.
In honor of Mediterranean Diet month I created Grilled Caprese Chicken, a marinated grilled chicken breast topped with Mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil finished with a balsamic vinegar reduction. My oh my, this is a recipe for the highlight reel. Seriously, I’ve been eating this dish for days and then making it again and again because it’s so delicious, easy-to-prepare with ingredients you most likely have (or will start having around because you’ll want to make this over and over like I do) and because everyone at the table appreciates it.
It turns ordinary grilled chicken into something you want to share and write home about. I hope you do just that. And with the grilling season right around the corner you won’t have to look very far for your first grilling dish. It’s right here.
The balsamic vinegar glaze is simply balsamic vinegar combined with brown sugar which is brought to a simmer and reduced by half to create a smooth, slightly thickened sauce, not as thick as syrup, but close. But oh the flavor addition to the chicken is AWE-mazing. You’ll have to put up with a little vinegar smell in the house when you reduce the mixture, but it is so worth the effort. Happy Mediterranean Diet Month. May all your meals be full of olive oil with love from my kitchen to yours.
One year ago: Spinach and Feta Cheese Omelet
- Grilled Caprese Chicken with Balsamic Glaze
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 4 slices part-skim Mozzarella cheese
- 4 slices fresh tomato
- 4 tsp sliced fresh basil leaves
- Place two chicken breasts in a large plastic bag and seal. Pound chicken with a mallet to about 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat for remaining two chicken breasts. Place all flattened chicken in plastic bag and set aside.
- For the marinade: Combine vinegar, water, brown sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic and black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly add olive oil while whisking to incorporate the oil. Pour 3/4 cup of the marinade (refrigerate remaining marinade for other uses such as a salad dressing) over chicken in plastic bag and seal bag. Gently squeeze the bag to distribute the marinade evenly over the chicken. Marinate for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature or if you want to marinate longer, refrigerate the chicken until ready to grill.
- For the Balsamic Glaze: Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat slightly to maintain a slow boil for 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half and is slightly thicker, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
- When ready to grill, preheat grill to medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Place chicken on grill and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, then turn to cook other side. After 5 to 6 minutes place a slice of Mozzarella cheese and a slice of tomato on top of each chicken breast. Grill chicken for another 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is done and cheese is melted.
- Place chicken breasts on serving platter, top with sliced basil and drizzle with Balsamic Glaze.
Prep time includes time for marinating chicken breasts.