Tasting the Essence of Summer

The beginning of September spells the start of a change in seasons. It might well be warm and summery, but the kids are going back to school and a few cool days get tossed in with those warm ones. So now is the time to enjoy the taste of summer before it fades:

Imagine biting into a juicy piece of chicken that's been grilled to perfection. Paired with the seared, slightly smoky meat is the unmistakable creaminess of fresh mozzarella, the sun-ripened sweetness of cherry tomatoes and the green bite of basil. Your mouth is in heaven and you didn't need to spend more than a half hour making it happen. Congratulations, you've just enjoyed the essence of summer!

The fresh produce -- like tomatoes and herbs -- that summer offers means dinner doesn't have to be a challenge. The ubiquity of gas grills and the like mean grilled chicken can be an easy, weeknight meal. Combining the two and adding a generous slice of fresh mozzarella gives you one of summer's finest offerings -- caprese salad -- on another of summer's favorites -- grilled chicken. It's a dish that will be loves by everyone at your table.

I rounded out my meal with some baby bok choy that had been simply sautéed and seasoned and a generous helping of fresh cubed melon. Oh, and a glass of chilled wine. This dish pairs well with everything from potato salad to rice pilaf to cucumber salad and many others. A versatile dish that will have you thinking more about the season we're getting ready to watch head into the sunset. But for now, savor the taste.

Caprese Grilled Chicken

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 generous slices of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4 sweet basil leaves, sliced thinly
  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 T. balsamic vinegar

Using a sharp knife, butterfly each of the chicken breasts and separate into two pieces at the seam. Season well with the salt and pepper.

Prepare a grill and grill the chicken over medium heat until cooked through, turning once (about 18-22 minutes, total). Upon removing the chicken to a platter, top each piece with a generous slice of fresh mozzarella. Allow to rest.

Combine the cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. To serve, place a piece of chicken on a serving plate and spoon a generous amount of the tomato relish over the top. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 30 minutes

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