Saucy Burst Tomato Basil Chicken
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Saucy Burst Tomato Basil Chicken comes together in one pan! You start by seasoning the chicken and searing it in a pan. Then, we’ll cook fresh tomatoes down to make a delicious pan sauce that you can use over pasta, rice, or serve alongside crusty bread.
Tomato Basil Chicken is the recipe to make when you have an abundance of summer tomatoes and basil that you want to use up. We might be rolling right into fall with all the decor, pumpkin spice lattes, and comfy fall clothes, but if there’s one thing I’m not ready to let go of just yet, it’s the beautiful summer tomatoes and basil crops.
And really, does anything go together with tomatoes the way basil does? Okay, maybe peanut butter and jelly, you got me there. But really this is the savory equivalent to that dynamic duo.
Picture this. Seasoned chicken breasts nuzzled in slow-simmered tomato sauce, speckled with robust garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh basil, and just to let it all roll off the tongue, a knob of butter.
Tell me you aren’t falling in love with this one already.
I’m going to be honest with you, living in Texas means I don’t really love summer all that much. Not with its 1000% certainty of humidity. Not when I just blow-dried my hair and walk outside to turn into Hermoine in precisely 15 seconds. But what I do love about summer is the abundance of beautiful tomatoes and basil. And how gorgeous they are both served cold, like in a salad, or warm, like in this tomato basil chicken recipe.
I’ve mentioned before that most of the time, the fresh basil I use for recipes comes from my parents garden. My dad ended up with three thriving basil plants this year, so he is always asking me to take some off his hands. And I’m always more than happy to! Especially when I can make homemade pesto, roasted tomato basil soup, greek salad jars, roasted tomato pasta, spicy arrabbiata sauce, and my marinated Caprese salad.
I may not be able to grow basil, but I can find more than a few ways to use it!
What do you need to make tomato basil chicken?
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Olive oil
What do you need to make tomato basil pan sauce?
- Cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes)
- Minced garlic
- Red pepper flakes
How to make the best tomato basil chicken:
- Season the chicken breasts. Combine the seasoning in a bowl first, then sprinkle both sides generously.
- Heat a pan with a generous swish of olive oil and allow the oil to get ho, just below the smoking point. Sear and cook the chicken on both sides until brown. Remove it to a plate.
- Allow the oil to cool down before you move forward; this is really important. If you add the tomatoes in when the oil is hot, the juices mixing with the oil with cause it to splatter everywhere. Once the oil cools down, add the tomatoes.
- Let the tomatoes cook down into a chunky sauce. Then, seasons hem with sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and half of the basil.
- Stir in the knob of butter and allow it to melt in. The butter helps emulsify the sauce, so it coats the pasta once you toss it. When the butter melts, add the chicken back into the skillet, nuzzling it under the sauce, so it soaks up all the flavor. Sprinkle the remaining half of the basil on top before you serve.
Can I use different types of tomatoes for this recipe?
You can swap the cherry/grape tomatoes for plum or even Roma tomatoes if you’d like. I suggest chopping the tomato down a bit if you decide to use larger tomatoes so that they don’t take forever to cook.
Why do you sear the chicken in the same pan before you make the sauce?
By searing the chicken first, we create layers of flavor in the pan that we will then use in the tomato basil pan sauce. When you cook seasoned chicken, it leaves behind all these brown bits (or fond) and that is like hitting a gold mine in the flavor department. So when we add the tomatoes to the pan, the acid in the tomatoes releases (or deglazes) all the flavor bits left behind by the chicken and adds free flavor to the pan sauce!
How an I serve this tomato basil chicken recipe?
Just about any way you like! I like to serve the sauce tossed with spaghetti. I feel it coats the pasta nicely once thickened with a knob of butter. You can also serve it over cauli-rice, regular rice, or even with a side salad and crusty bread.
If you want to get extra fancy, I would drizzle crusty bread with a little olive oil and toast it on a grill pan or in the oven and then rub it with the cut side of a garlic clove. Homemade Caesar salad would be so good alongside that.
And there you have it! Homegoods might be selling faux pumpkins, and I may give into them this early in the year, but I’m also not ready to let go of summer produce!
Tomato Basil Chicken has the last days of summer written all over it.
- 1 ½ pound of chicken breasts (cut thicker breasts in half, horizontally)
- 1 teaspoon EACH: salt AND garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Oil, for cooking
Tomato Basil Pan Sauce:
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 24 ounces (1 ½ pound) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ½ teaspoon EACH: salt AND red pepper flakes (less or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned
- Cooked pasta, for serving
- CHICKEN: Combine the salt, garlic powder, and black pepper in a small bowl. Place the chicken on a cutting board in a single layer and season evenly on both sides with the seasoning.
- COOK CHICKEN: Heat a big swish of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken in a single layer and cook the chicken for roughly 3-5 minutes per side or until cooked through. If all the chicken does not fit at once, repeat this process; do not overcrowd the pan or the chicken won’t brown. Remove the chicken to a plate.
- TOMATO BASIL SAUCE: Remove the skillet off the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. After about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes to the pan and add a swish of oil if the pan is dry. Place the skillet on medium heat. Allow the tomatoes to start sizzling and softening for a couple of minutes Then using a wooden spoon and fork burst any tomatoes that need a little help. Scrape the pan to lift all the fond. Cook for roughly 12-15 minutes or until the tomatoes soften and become a chunky sauce. Season with the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt, and ½ the basil at this point and continue to cook the sauce for another 2 minutes. If at any point the tomatoes start to dry out, add a small splash of water, I didn't need to. Add the butter and allow it to slowly melt into the sauce while you stir. Once the butter has melted, nestle the chicken breasts back into the sauce so they can soak up that flavor. Sprinkle with the remaining basil on top. Serve over pasta, cooked rice, cauli-rice or with crusty toasted bread on the side.
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