Easy Caprese Salad

This one goes out to all my Italian family and has a special place in my heart. Growing up, almost all of my extended “family” was Italian. I loved this, because we are not one iota of Italian. A little Czech, a little Native American, a smidge of Irish… but we definitely got to enjoy the family/food-centric-lifestyle of a big Italian family. My mom’s parents owned a mushroom farm, and for decades the mushroom industry was (and still is!) sustained by several prominent Italian families, many of which became our own.

I can tell you, this was absolutely more of a blessing than it was a curse. On the upside – everyone was your ‘cousin’! Go to the grocery store? See your cousins! At a party? Call them all your cousins! Half of them aren’t really your cousins, but it’s easier to explain than saying “my mom grew up with their mom Lisa and she dated Lisa’s brother for a year but then he married Patty… so that’s my Aunt Lisa.”

Generations grew up alongside each other, and the grandparents had their kids, who played alongside each other, married into another big local family, had kids and did the same thing all over again. Your network of people who care about you is your entire town. It’s a great thing.

On the downside… your family is your entire town. You’ve got so many “cousins” that you have to do a family tree run-through just to make sure you’re in the clear if you plan on going on any dates. Speaking for a friend.


While there were plenty of dinners filled lasagnas and raviolis, and Seven Fish feasts to attend at Christmas, nothing is as simple (and equally delicious) as this salad. You don’t need any secret spices or coveted recipes by your Nana (but…. I need to find someone to give me a Gnocchi recipe… i’ll have to do some investigating…), you just need a big platter, the freshest Mozzarella, and some tomatoes and basil from your garden. Throw in some salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic and olive oil, and you have a fancy salad that looks beautiful anywhere.

That was basically a walkthrough of this recipe…. no, really! But i’ll still post how to arrange it. it is literally 2 steps – best simple salad ever.

Caprese Salad

Serves 6-8, small portions

Prep time: 10 min


  • 2 cups small mozzarella balls, in water
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ~ 2 tsp basil, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of fresh minced garlic (optional – literally just a PINCH – you do not want to overpower the salad)


  1. Mix mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in a bowl, stirring to get some of the tomato juice around.
  2. Add garlic (if using), then balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Stir to coat salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I let mine sit for at least 20 minutes to marinate, but you can serve immediately.



Caprese Chicken (Paleo)


I love sauce on stuff. Not necessarily tomato sauce, but just sauce.. Dipping sauce. Or gravy. Slather that @#&$ on, I love it. The upside to this is that every bite is covered in whatever steamy goodness the sauce is; the downside is that most good sauces and gravies are pretty unhealthy. My Achilles heel is sausage biscuits and gravy. Drown those freakin’ biscuits in that sausage saucy heavenly gravy and let me be the little piglet I am and eat every last bite, because I will do it. I could probably eat 3 or 4 of them, and I try to avoid going out to brunch because it’s always somewhere on the menu…. And I have little self-control.

Back to what I was talking about, sawce. For a big crowd, I love making Caprese Chicken with a creamy sauce. It’s delicious, but i looked at it as a “treat” that could only be had on special occasions because of how rich the sauce was. Heavy cream, loads of butter… delicious, yet leaves you feeling guilty.

After making a creamy dessert with coconut, I decided to sub the dairy in this recipe for coconut milk. What a glorious decision that was…. The coconut milk gives it this light, fresh taste, but doesn’t compromise the Italian feel of the dish. That gets me thinking about the actual culture and locale of Italy, and how they kind of do the same thing. Rome, one of civilization’s oldest cities, sits right alongside Italy’s modern cities and life. While I’m sure this could be said about any old city, Rome in particular is quite special. As one of the starting places for societal “norms”, historic landmarks and literature, modern-day Italy was built around it, changing as its people did. Technological advances and trends continued to evolve, but Rome stayed intact, never having its integrity truly compromised. I feel like the same sentiment comes through on this dish – the same pure flavors of basil, garlic and tomato are present, but are reinvented in a healthier way. You could say I’m reading too deep into a chicken recipe, but the very point is that these kinds of continuing themes, observations and ideas are present and exist in almost everything around you today. Just a little reminder that we are all connected, we all came from the same place, and we will all return there eventually… so why not get creative? 🙂

Also, I am really considering making a special trip to a diner to get myself some sausage gravy over biscuits… borderline hangry right now, sigh.

Paleo Caprese Chicken

Serves 6-8

Cook time: 50 minutes (total)

Prep time: 30 minutes


  • 2 lbs thin sliced boneless/skinless chicken breast, preferably organic/all-natural. If they aren’t pre-cut, they can be sliced in half thickness wise
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 can of coconut milk, full fat
  • 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil or ghee
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ cup of basil, finely chopped
  • 1 log of fresh mozzarella, pre-sliced (optional)


  1. A little bit of pre-work… generously salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts and set aside. In a large oven-safe skillet or pan over medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of the ghee or coconut oil, allow to heat. You’ll be using this same skillet throughout.
  2. Cook chicken breasts until they’re browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes per side. I cover my chicken so that the steam helps it cook – add more coconut oil or ghee as necessary if the pan dries out. You want to make sure it’s fully cooked since it will only be simmering in the sauce later for a short time. Set chicken aside on a plate, covering with foil until all the chicken is cooked.
  3. After cleaning your large skillet, add another tbsp of ghee or oil to the pan – allow to heat. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Once the onions are translucent, add the garlic, and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Turn heat to low, and add thyme, parsley, oregano and sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. Once the herbs are fragrant, stir in the coconut milk and majority of your chicken broth, withholding about a ½ cup aside in a small bowl. Turn the heat up to medium-high and continue to stir until it starts to bubble. Allow to simmer for about a minute or so, continuing to stir.
  6. After you’ve let the sauce simmer, turn the heat back down to low. Whisk together the remaining chicken broth thoroughly and arrowroot powder and add to the pan. Arrowroot powder thickens very quickly, so make sure you stir it in thoroughly.
  7. Next, add your chicken around the pan, ensuring all pieces are covered in the sauce. Since your chicken was seasoned already, this is where I taste the broth to see if I need more salt and pepper. I usually do, but to prevent over-salting, it’s good to check. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  8. This next step is optional and moves away towards paleo cooking, but keeps this dish just a little indulgent without a lot of guilt 🙂 Turn on your oven broiler to high, making sure you’re using a middle rack (not too close to the heat!) Place the slices of mozzarella over the chicken pieces, ensuring each piece of chicken has some mozzarella. Place skillet in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until mozzarella starts to melt thoroughly. Carefully remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 3-4 minutes.


Serve with some basic orzo and a nice side salad!


Enjoy 🙂