Mozzarella, Tomato and Chicken Bake
Sometimes recipes don’t even need a name – like this one. So I am just calling it what it is. I have been making this for a while with pantry ingredients I have had on hand and it’s always a crowd pleaser.Around this time of year I always buy a weekly pint or two of cherry tomatoes. I know, they’re not in season yet where I live but I start to feel a little desperate for fresh ingredients. I like to put them in salads, toss them in sautés, or bake them, like in this recipe. Once growing season starts I’ll have hundreds of fresh out of the garden tomatoes on hand.And basil? That’s a given. Any extra will get thrown into making a pesto, put in a smoothie or on a salad. Fresh herbs not only make your food taste fantastic, they are so full of nutrients. sort of like sprinkling on a delicious vitamin pill!
1 pint cherry tomatoes (in the winter you may use canned diced tomatoes if you wish)
1 medium ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1″ cubes
medium handful fresh basil, sliced (really as much as you like)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a medium sized baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and add to a medium mixing bowl along with the mozzarella and basil. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and gently toss together. Set aside.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, Parmesan, thyme and the rest of the salt, pepper and olive oil. Dip the chicken breasts on both sides of the panko mixture and generously coat them. Add them in a single layer to the baking dish.
- Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and top with the tomato mixture. Place the baking dish back in the oven.
- Continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the chicken is cooked through (you might need to gently slice into one with a knife to check for doneness).
- Serve hot on its own or with whole grain pasta (brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta work great).