Pesto Chicken Caprese Salad — Homemade pesto coats every bite of JUICY chicken, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella in this fun twist on caprese salad!! EASY, ready in 20 minutes, and loaded with rich basil flavor!!
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Pesto Chicken & Tomato Caprese Salad
Caprese salads are one of my favorite things, especially in the summer, and I made this amped up version which includes chicken and pesto.
It’s an easy dish that’s healthy, light, intensely flavorful, and ready in 20 minutes.
I broke the recipe down into three easy-peasy section: Pesto, chicken, caprese salad. Done.
I love pesto and with all the fresh basil this time of year, ’tis the season. It’s easy and comes together in a food processor in one minute. Homemade is so much better than store-bought.
Simply combine fresh basil with parmesan, pine nuts (I’ve seen people sub walnuts, cashews, or pistachios), garlic, olive oil, and you’re in business. I used HemisFares Olive Oil from Ralph’s (or Kroger depending on where you live).
This velvety and flavorful estate-grown oil features Nocellara del Belice olives grown and harvested by the same family for over 100 years, available only from the province of Trapani in Sicily. Cold-pressed within eight hours of being picked, the oil has notes of artichokes and almonds and a peppery finish that’s perfect for dipping, cooking, and finishing.
The chicken cooks in the pesto and it really helps the chicken stay tender, juicy, and adds so much basil-infused flavor. The cooked chicken is tossed with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and lightly drizzled with balsamic reduction.
All the different textures and flavors complement each other beautifully!
What’s in Chicken Caprese Salad?
To make this caprese and pesto chicken salad, you’ll need:
- Fresh basil
- Pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese
- Lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- HemisFares Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Chicken breasts
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Fresh mozzarella pearls
- Balsamic reduction or glaze
How to Make Chicken Caprese Salad
This caprese pesto chicken salad couldn’t be simpler to make! First, you’ll pop all of the basil pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Then, you’ll cook the diced chicken in an oiled skillet over medium-high heat. When the chicken is 90% cooked through, add the pesto and finish cooking.
After the chicken is cooked, it’s just a matter of tossing together the tomato caprese salad ingredients with the cooked chicken!
Can I Prep Chicken Caprese Salad in Advance?
No, this caprese pesto chicken salad is best enjoyed right away. You could likely cook the pesto chicken in advance and eat this as a cold chicken salad, but I don’t recommend tossing the ingredients together until you’re ready to dig in. T
he basil will wilt and the tomatoes will become soggy over time.
Can I Use Store-Bought Pesto?
Of course! Although homemade basil pesto is so simple to make and tastes so much better. Store-bought pesto is often quite salty, which is why I prefer making it from scratch.
Tips for Making Chicken Caprese Salad
Be sure to dice the chicken into evenly sized pieces so they cook at the same rate. The chicken should be bite-sized so it’s easy to eat alongside the cherry tomatoes.
I highly recommend using a balsamic reduction or a balsamic glaze to make this chicken caprese salad. Balsamic vinegar is too runny and is much more acidic than a balsamic reduction.
If you don’t have balsamic reduction at home, try making it yourself!
Note that you’ll likely have extra pesto, which is great the next day on pasta, zucchini noodles, make a pesto pizza, or simply eat as a dip.
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- 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves (from about one 4-ounce container)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 to 3 cloves garlic, to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup HemisFares Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons HemisFares Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- about 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if desired
- one 8-ounce container fresh mozzarella ‘pearls’ or small mozzarella balls, drained
- about 10 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
- 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction or balsamic glaze for drizzling, or to taste
Make the Pesto:
- To the canister of a food processor fitted with the S-blade, add the basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice (helps pesto from oxidizing as quickly) salt, pepper, and blend on high speed momentarily to break ingredients down.
- With the motor running, drizzle in the olive until the pesto is smooth and emulsified; set aside.
Make the Chicken:
- To a large skillet, add the olive oil, chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat; stir and flip intermittently so chicken cooks evenly.
- When chicken is about 90% cooked through, add the pesto, stir to combine, reduce the heat to low, and allow the chicken to simmer in the pesto for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until chicken is done (internal temp of 165F).
Assemble the Caprese Salad:
- To a large bowl, add the chicken including the pesto/pan juices, mozzarella, basil, evenly drizzle with balsamic, stir to combine, and serve immediately. Dish is best fresh.
- Extra pesto will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days, noting it will oxidize as time passes although the lemon juice helps to minimize this.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 793Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 1454mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 62g
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Post is brought to you by HemisFares. The recipes, images, text, and opinions expressed are my own.