I’m thinking this week is lookin’ pretty darn’ good when we’re kickin’ it off with a simple mozzarella chicken recipe for you to try out. And the best part is it’s count ’em, 123456789…10 ingredients and just 30 quick minutes away from having dinner on the table.
I’m gonna to be straight with you. This recipe is probably a true Italian food lovers worst nightmare! Because in reality its a hodgepodge of everything. A simple chicken breast that’s been seared, nestled in a quick marinara and then topped with a slice of mozzarella cheese and broiled for 1-2 minutes until the cheese was all bubbly and golden and delicious. And let me just clarify about that sauce – we’re talking a quick 30 minute homemade tomato sauce that’s been jazzed up with a secret ingredient that makes this taste like it’s been slow simmered ALL FLIPPIN’ DAY LONG.
When I say it’s a 30 minute recipe, know that i’m being extra generous with the time. It’s more like a 6-10 minute chicken-searing-while-the-pasta-is-cooking-in-a-pot recipe. Then it’s a zippy 10 minutes to slow simmer that sauce and voila! Before you know it it’s on the table and the whole family can smell it from miles away because it’s chicken smothered in homemade sauce and it’s topped with melty, stretchy, cheesy goodness.
4 small chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup chopped onions
1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
½ teaspoon EACH Italian seasoning AND red pepper flakes (see notes)
¼ teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato pesto (homemade or store-bought) (see notes)
salt and pepper + ¼ cup water
4 slices mozzarella cheese (or 1 cup shredded)
chopped parsley or basil + pasta or crusty bread
CHICKEN: Sprinkle the chicken with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side or until the chicken is completely cooked through, remove to a plate. If you are planning on serving this with pasta, get the water going and cook the pasta according to package directions.
TOMATO SAUCE: Preheat the oven on the broiler setting. Add the onions to the oil remaining in the pan. If there isn’t any, add in about ½ teaspoon and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes until the soften, add the garlic and let cook for 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, dried basil, and pesto and stir to combine. When the sauce reaches a simmer, add a ¼ cup of water, lower the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
ASSEMBLE: Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce and using a spoon, cover the chicken with sauce. Top each breast with a slice of cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese gets nice and bubbly and just melts. Top with chopped parsley or basil ribbons. Serve with pasta or crusty bread and a salad.
Though I do recommend using sun-dried tomato pesto for this recipe as it really enhances the flavor of the sauce and makes it taste like it was simmered all day, basil pesto will also work in the recipe.
Also, you can use more or less red pepper flakes to taste. Omit for a milder sauce.