Caprese salad is a quintessential salad of summer with fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzled with a good extra-virgin olive oil.
In this dish, the classic salad is translated into a filling for chicken breasts. Bocconcini are balls of mozzarella that are slightly smaller than regular-sized balls of fresh mozzarella — about the size of an egg. Both are sold packed in water. When halved, one will fit perfectly inside half of a boneless, skinless, chicken breast.
Sun-dried tomato pesto is used instead of fresh tomatoes in the chicken. I like to use sun-dried tomato pesto rather than just sun-dried tomatoes because the pesto has other ingredients such as cheese, herbs and pine nuts that add extra flavor and texture.
The stuffed chicken is then wrapped in thin slices of prosciutto, a dry-cured Italian ham. Also referred to as Parma ham, prosciutto specifically from that region of Italy will be labeled Prosciutto di Parma. Don’t worry if you can’t find it; there are other types of prosciutto available in the deli of most grocery stores that don’t carry the high price tag.
Peppery arugula tossed with this balsamic vinaigrette is the perfect accompaniment for the chicken. I’ve been making this vinaigrette for as long as I’ve been in business and it has never failed to please. Top off this Italian-inspired meal with your favorite flavor of gelato for dessert.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Caprese and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- Salt and black pepper
- 8 large leaves fresh basil
- 2 small balls (4 ounces) fresh mozzarella (bocconcini), drained and patted dry, halved
- 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butterfly the chicken breasts by making a horizontal cut through the middle of the breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Open flat.
Place 4 basil leaves on each opened breast, followed by equal amounts of mozzarella and pesto. Bring the top of the breast over the filling to close.
Place two slices of prosciutto on the closed chicken breast, covering as much of the chicken as possible. Tuck the prosciutto under the breasts to seal them. (Can be prepared up to a day in advance and refrigerated.)
Place in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the filling registers 165 degrees.
Allow to rest 5 minutes, slice and serve over arugula salad.
Salad and Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 to 3 cups fresh baby arugula
Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended.
Toss 2 to 3 tablespoons vinaigrette with arugula and divide equally on plates. (Remaining vinaigrette keeps for 1 to 2 weeks.)