With the warmer weather around the corner and looking forward to sunnier days, we start to crave meals which are not quite as heavy as the food we like to eat and cook in the Winter months. Meals such as this Chicken Margherita Recipe become most welcome with their bright colours and fresh summery flavours.
Chicken Margherita is one of our favourite meals we like to eat in the Summer months. Tender chicken breasts fillets are seasoned and grilled to perfection. Topped with melted mozzarella, peppery pesto, and a fresh tomato and basil salad, this always goes down a real treat with my family!
Not only is the colour of this fantastic dish bright and appealing, but the flavours are fresh and incredibly delicious. Think of your favourite Margherita pizza without the bread and using instead a tender piece of perfectly flavoured and grilled chicken as the base. Quick and easy to cook, it is perfect for these late Spring and early Summer Meals. We quite simply love this dish!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO COOK EASY CHICKEN MARGHERITA
Simple ingredients perfectly prepared and cooked well. You cannot get much better than this!
|4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets|
|Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste|
|2 TBS olive oil|
|1 tsp garlic powder|
|½ tsp dried oregano|
|¼ tsp dried basil|
|¼ tsp dried thyme|
|8 TBS grated mozzarella cheese|
|8 TBS basil pesto|
|½ cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered|
|1 TBS fresh lemon juice|
|½ packed basil leaves, cut into chiffonade|
|Cracked black pepper to garnish|
HINTS & TIPS TO MAKE THE BEST CHICKEN MARGHERITA
If you follow my hints, tips, and safety measures, you are sure to achieve perfection with this recipe!
- Read through the recipe several times before beginning to familiarise yourself with any ingredients or steps required. This will help to prevent you from making mistakes or leaving out a necessary ingredient.
- Assemble all of your ingredients and any equipment you might need to use before starting. Once again, this will help to prevent you from making any costly errors. There is nothing worse than getting part of the way through a recipe and realising that you do not have a vital component of he recipe in your house. Trips to the shops in the middle of cooking are no fun!
- When you are dealing with raw chicken make sure that you use separate utensils for working with the chicken, separate cutting boards, plates, etc. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before handling anything else. Raw chicken contains bacteria that can easily make people sick and it is extremely easy to transfer this bacteria to other ingredients and kitchen tools unless you practice safe food hygiene as a rule. Avoid cross-contamination of ingredients and equipment as much as possible.
- Trim your chicken of any sinew or excess fat before pounding it to an even thickness. I like to place my chicken, one piece at a time into a zip lock bag and lightly pound it with my rolling pin. Do not be too heavy handed. You do not want to tear the chicken.
- Pound the chicken all over to make sure that the chicken is of an even thickness throughout and make sure all of your chicken pieces are the same thickness. That way they will all cook in approximately the same length of time.
- Wash any fresh vegetables before using and then pat dry. You do not want to be feeding your family pesticides and chemicals.
- I like to cut my cherry tomatoes into quarters for this dish. Smaller pieces are easier to eat and manage, especially for children. They also look nicer on the plate.
- You can use either a fresh pesto, homemade pesto, or a good quality store bought pesto. Obviously, you will want to buy the best that you can afford if using a ready-made pesto. Pesto is a vital ingredient for this recipe and the flavour, texture and colour really do matter and make a difference.
- Use only fresh lemon juice for the tomato salad. Bottles of lemon juice are often made from concentrated lemon juice. It has a completely different flavour and acidity, that I find does not work well in things which are not going to be cooked. When using lemon juice for a fresh salad such as the tomato salad in this recipe, only the juice from fresh lemons will do.
- Basil is a soft herb, which means it bruises very easily. You want to treat it as delicately as possible. For this recipe I roll large leaves of basil into a cigar shape and then cut it thinly into crosswise slices, using a sharp knife which cuts through the basil cleanly.
- I like to buy a block of fresh mozzarella and then slice it for this recipe. It has the nicest flavour for this purpose.
- Dried herbs are quite acceptable and in fact preferable for marinating the chicken, along with a decent extra virgin olive oil.
- Do not assemble the tomato salad until just before you serve it. Fresh lemon juice can start to “cook” things and you want your salad to taste as fresh as possible!
HOW TO MAKE THIS CHICKEN MARGHERITA RECIPE
You really do not need any special skills to cook this recipe. Simple food prepared simply.
Trim your chicken breasts, cutting off and discarding any sinew or fat. Put them, one at a time, into a zip-lock bag or between two sheets of plastic cling film. Pound lightly using a rolling pin, or the smooth side of a meat pounder if you have one. You want them to be an even thickness throughout and less than 1 inch in thickness.
I find about ½ inch thick to be best. Repeat with each breast until all are done. Place the chicken into a bowl. Wash your cutting board and hands, and wipe down your rolling pin and work surface before proceeding.
Put the olive oil into a large bowl and add the dried herbs and seasonings. Mix well together. Add the raw, pounded chicken breasts, turning them to coat them evenly in the oil mixture.
Heat a large non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken breast in one layer.
Sear and cook the chicken on both sides, for about 6 to 8 minutes per side. When done it should be golden brown and the juices should run clear when you pierce the chicken with a skewer or fork.
Divide the mozzarella cheese between the grilling chicken pieces and cook for about a minute longer until the cheese melts. (I find popping a lid over top for about 60 seconds helps.)
Set aside and keep warm while you make the tomato salad.
Gather your basil leaves and roll them up into a tight cigar shape. Using a sharp knife, cut the basil into thin strips. This is called julienning.
Wash, dry and quarter your cherry tomatoes. Put them into a shallow bowl along with the julienned basil, lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper. Toss together lightly to combine.
Arrange your grilled chicken breasts with the melted cheese onto a heated serving platter. Top each with 3 TBS of Pesto and then a portion of the tomato salad. Garnish with some fresh basil (if desired) and then serve immediately.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHICKEN MARGHERITA
This is such a lovely and light dish you will not want to serve it with anything too heavy on the side. Steamed Basmati rice goes very well. You could also serve it with some pasta noodles, which have simply been tossed with a bit of butter and seasoning. You do not want to serve it with anything that might overwhelm the delicate flavours of the chicken. Some crusty bread is nice so that you can sop up all of the juices from the chicken and the tomato salad. Grilled fresh asparagus drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar is also genuinely nice on the side.
If you are eating this Al Fresco on the patio, accompany with a cold pitcher of Sangria! Salut!
I really hope that I have inspired you to want to cook this fresh and delicious Chicken Margherita Recipe today! This recipe is perfect for entertaining or just enjoying with the family. It may look complicated but only you need to know how easy it really was to prepare! Enjoy!
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp dried basil
- ¼ tsp dried thyme
- 8 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
- 8 TBS basil pesto
- ½ cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
- ½ packed basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
- Cracked black pepper to garnish
- Fresh basil leaves to garnish (Optional)
- Whisk together the sea salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic powder, oregano, basil, and thyme in a bowl. Set aside.
- Gently pound your chicken breast fillets until they are of an even thickness (no more than ½ inch thick). Add them to the bowl with the olive oil mixture, turning them to coat them evenly. Leave them to sit for about ten minutes before proceeding.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken to the hot pan. Grill the chicken on both sides for about 6 minutes until golden brown all over and the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
- Top each piece of chicken with slices of the mozzarella cheese and allow it to melt. Set aside and keep warm.
- Gently toss together the cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and basil until well combined.
- Remove the grilled chicken to a heated platter.
- Serve each piece of chicken topped with 2 TBS of pesto, some of the tomato salad and a fresh grinding of black pepper.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired.
- Serve immediately.
Marie Rayner is a retired Chef, freelance writer, recipe developer, food blogger, and Cookbook author. She makes her home in Chester, UK, where she lives with her husband, Todd, and their much beloved English Cocker, Mitzie. Her motto is “Life is far too short to eat bad food,” and her goal is to share delicious and easy recipes which anyone can enjoy and cook in the comfort of their own home.