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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
caprese salad

Tomato and Basil: The perfect match

Like Mickey and Minnie, there are certain foods that just simply belong together. Tomato and basil are the perfect match. The slightly sweet aromatic flavor of basil complements the savory juiciness of a tomato. And the world has taken notice; there are countless dishes that highlight these two stars. Tomato basil soup, margarita pizza, bruschetta and caprese salad are just a few of my favorites.

Caprese salad originated in Italy, and it's prepared to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Besides tomato and basil, fresh mozzarella joins the show. It's traditionally drizzled with olive oil and maybe a touch of salt and typically served as an appetizer. When a starter is made with just a few ingredients, it's important that each ingredient is high quality. Fresh basil should not be wilted or brown. Tomatoes should be vine-ripened and picked locally. Mozzarella should be fresh and moist, and olive oil should be extra-virgin and not a low-grade oil.

Caprese salad has morphed into many different dishes. It can be threaded onto skewers, stuffed inside chicken, tossed into a pasta or made into a casserole. Try it in a foil pack like the recipe below!

Caprese Chicken Foil Pack (Printable PDF)

2 (6 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breasts

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes

¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F or prepare grill. Arrange two large squares of aluminum foil on a cutting board and place each chicken breast on each aluminum foil square. Cover chicken breasts with plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound chicken to ½-inch thickness. Discard the plastic wrap. Season both sides of chicken with garlic powder and pepper. In a small bowl, stir together mozzarella cheese, basil, tomatoes and vinegar. Divide the tomato mixture onto the two chicken breasts. Roll each chicken breast around the filling and secure with toothpicks. Drizzle chicken breast with olive oil. Bring up two sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges; Fold over other two sides to seal. Place on grill, cover and cook for 20 minutes or on a baking sheet in oven and cook for 25 minutes or until internal temperature of thermometer reads at least 165°F.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutrition Facts per serving: 190 calories, 12 grams fat, 210 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 15 grams protein

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