This recipe was unexpectedly phenomenal. In fact, I like it better than the gluten free margherita pizza it was originally inspired by. When you ask someone on a gluten free diet what they miss most, we almost always say pizza. Sure, there are gluten free pizzerias, frozen pizzas and Italian restaurants who have embraced the GF culture. But when you break up with gluten, you start to make more informed decisions about food. You think, hmm, I have more energy when I don't eat bread, pasta and dough so maybe I should eat less carbs and starches, gluten filled or not. The globs of cheese can also be a deterrent if you are lactose intolerant so gluten free pizza can still present some challenges.
Now, this does not mean I don't jump for joy anytime I see gluten free pizza options on a menu. There is usually a ridiculous combination of jumping, clapping and excitedly pulling on Dave's arm, while some embarrassing sound of glee continues to escape me. And then I immediately order the pizza, mostly just because I can, and it makes me feel like a normal person. Being the strategic person I am, there are three go-to favorite pizza joints in the areas I frequent most. It is about an hour away, so I try to find any excuse I can to hit up River Edge Pizza Kitchen when I visit my parents or go to the mall. Their pizza is amazing but their gluten free chicken francese and chicken parm are to die for. When Dave and I visit his family in Tampa, we almost always push for a pizza night at Sally O'Neal's Pizza, which now carries gluten free dough. And let me tell you, their GF pizza is so amazing, you cannot even tell it is gluten free! And finally, closest to home, is John's Pizza in Jersey City. They have perfected the gluten free crust, in my opinion, and make an unbelievable GF margherita pizza. Dave is too attached to his favorite pizza place, Paulus Hook Brick Oven Pizza, (who look at me sideways every time I ask them when they will start to make gluten free pizza...) so we have a pizza night routine. I call John's to place an order for a personal GF margherita pie and we take Holly for a walk. Dave stops in at PH Pizza to grab two slices while I grab my pie from John's. I call it our pizza compromise where everyone wins, including Holly who gets to eat the crust.
Wow, do I digress?! Now that you know about my love for gluten free pizza, you will better understand my new love for this margherita chicken recipe. Recently, I ordered a GF margherita pizza twice in one week. I am ashamed but I am pretty sure you understand and are currently thinking of your most recent pizza shame story. It took everything in me not to order for a third time that week, so I had to find some way to kill that craving. And then I realized I was craving the taste of tomato and basil most of all. On my walk home from work that night, I stopped by the market to grab a few ingredients and this fantastic recipe was born. #whenthemoonhitsyoureyelikeaglutenfreepizzapie
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes (unless you use pre-cooked chicken)
Fresh From the Market:
- 1 1/2 lbs. Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast (cooked or uncooked)
- 2 Tomatoes, diced
- 8 fresh Basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 c. Chevre (Goat Cheese)
From the Pantry:
- 1/2 c. Roasted Red Peppers, diced
- 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
From the Spice Rack:
- 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
- You know I am always in a rush so I find shortcuts wherever I can. I picked up some fresh, uncooked chicken breasts from the market when I made this, but if I had planned ahead, I would have grilled some chicken ahead of time. This was an impromptu recipe so I worked with what I had. All of that said, either grill up a package of chicken breasts or grab the pre-cooked chicken from the fridge or freezer. There are shortcuts noted throughout this recipe to make it a 10 minute meal, if needed.
- The true inspiration for this dish is the basil. That strong, intoxicating smell of basil immediately reminds me of delicious, fresh Italian food. Basil pairs extremely well with tomatoes but sometimes, the taste can be lacking. That is where the roasted red peppers come in! The flavor combo of the tomatoes and pepper really give the base of this dish substance, as well as rich, fabulous color.
- Get ready to slice and dice. Wash your tomatoes, slice the tops and bottoms off, and dice into small pieces. Short on time? Use organic canned, diced tomatoes instead. I would love to say I roast my own red peppers, but, come on. Don't you know me at all by now? I like Trader Joe's roasted red peppers and always keep a jar in the fridge. If you dice one big piece it should equate to the 1/2 cup needed in this recipe. Cans, jars and frozen bags can be time savers but just read the ingredients closely. If the only ingredient is the veggie or fruit, and if it is preferably organic, go for it.
- Next up, the basil. Remove the stems and finely chop the basil leaves. Feel free to add more or less basil. Put the chopped basil and diced tomatoes and peppers in a bowl and mix together.
- Next, measure the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and add to the bowl. Gently mix all of the ingredients together to make a roasted red pepper and tomato topping for your chicken. Measure 1 tbsp. of goat cheese for each piece of chicken and spread it out across the top of each cooked piece. Then, spoon equal portions of the red pepper and tomato topping on top and dinner is served.
Warning - I have become obsessed with this dish. The flavor combination packs a punch that is irresistible. The fragrant taste of basil, the tangy taste of goat cheese, the rich taste of tomatoes and red peppers, topped with the delicate balance of tart balsamic vinegar and smooth olive oil. Spreading this across grilled chicken feels a lot healthier than a thick, carby crust with globs of mozzarella cheese. Don't get me wrong, I will still delight in my guilty pleasure of gluten free pizza but this recipe satisfies my craving with a fresh, protein filled alternative. It is a perfect recipe for summer BBQs and can easily be made into a chicken salad dish if you chop the chicken and toss it all together. Much more attractive and delicious than a bowl of pasta or potatoes, covered in pounds of mayo sitting in the hot, hot sun. You can even skip the chicken and spread the goat cheese and tomato pepper topping on other gluten free basics - GF crackers or toast, crudite, polenta cakes, you name it.
If you love tomatoes as much as I do, check out some of these other recipes!