Good morning to you on this lovely Tuesday! How’s everything going? Yesterday I had planned to make chimichurri grilled chicken thighs with a couscous salad, but realized that I had used up all of our cilantro (aka the main ingredient in the chimichurri), plus I wanted to get away from cilantro since we’ve been eating a lot of it this week. I was craving something more italian in flavor profile (shocking!). Plus, we are watering plants for my mother-in-law while she’s out of town and she has SO much basil! She told us we could take as much as we want, and I figured why not?
I also noticed that we had a lot of random tomatoes on hand from various farmer’s market visits, and figured we should probably use some of those up before they go bad. On Sunday after church I made marinated BLTA’s for lunch, and we loved delicious tomato flavor marinated in a simple mix of olive oil, balsamic, italian seasoning, and garlic. Definitely a step up from our usual BLT’s. I used that marinade as a base for today’s recipe, so I can’t take full credit for coming up with this meal on my own. But I did create a whole new meal out of it, so there’s that!
Today’s recipe is super easy, and bursting with seasonal flavors! It’s perfect for busy summer weeknights. Let’s be honest, we’re really not that busy but I’d rather not spend James’s entire nap time in the kitchen. I love to cook, but I’m on my feet most of the day so it feels good to sit down for an hour or so and read or blog while he naps.
I’ll walk you through the recipe with pictures and then post a consolidated version below.
First up, take about a pound of chicken thighs and spread them out into a baking dish.
Season the chicken with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Next prepare your marinade by mixing together 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon italian seasoning, and 3 minced garlic cloves. I just used a fork to mix until it was blended.
Pour half of the marinade over the chicken thighs and then top with sliced tomatoes. I used a handful of large cherry tomatoes for our dish, but feel free to use any kind of tomato you’d like. If you’re using a regular size tomato, I would say anywhere from 1-2 tomatoes would be perfect. Drizzle the remaining marinade on top of the tomatoes and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you’d like to marinade longer, just cover the dish and stick it in the fridge for a few hours, or all day! I was feeling impatient, so I simply let our dish marinade while the oven was preheating.
While the chicken is marinating and the oven is preheating, prepare your couscous. I love to toast the couscous in a tablespoon or two of butter before adding water and salt and cooking for 15 minutes. I still haven’t decided if the butter step adds a noticeable amount of flavor, but I’d like to think that you cant go wrong with butter 😉
When the oven has preheated, pop the chicken in and set your timer for 20 minutes. Your chicken may need more or less time depending on your oven and how big the thighs are, but I would definitely check it after 20 minutes. Bonus tip: feel free to use chicken breasts if that’s what you have on hand. We just had thighs in the fridge, so that’s what I used! I think it would taste great either way!
While everything is cooking you can prepare your lemon basil sauce for the couscous. I would have loved to have made a homemade pesto to mix in with the cousous but we didn’t have pine nuts, and I was trying to keep the meal as easy as possible and cleaning the blender sounded daunting at the time. So a super quick sauce it was! Still lots of pesto-like flavor though. If you’re feeling more inspired than I was, I would totally suggest making (or buying) pesto to mix in with the couscous. It just creates a more consistent flavor all around.
When the chicken is done, top with some fresh or shredded mozzarella cheese and broil for a minute or two until the cheese gets all bubbly and toasty.
When the couscous is done, stir in the lemon basil sauce and spoon into bowls or plates.
To serve, top the lemon basil couscous with the chicken thighs and tomatoes, and garnish with a few sprinkles of fresh basil. Enjoy!
I hope that you enjoy this meal as much as we did! Bonus points if you serve it alongside some fresh italian bread…YUM! Happy eating 🙂
20 Minute Caprese Chicken Thighs with Lemon Basil Couscous
Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Total Time: 25 Minutes
For the Chicken:
1 pound Chicken Thighs (or breasts)
1 large handful Cherry Tomatoes (or 1-2 regular tomatoes)
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded
Salt and Pepper
For the Couscous:
1 cup Pearl Couscous
1.5 cups Water
1-2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup chopped Basil
Salt and Pepper
- Place chicken thighs in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
- Roughly chop your tomatoes.
- Combine 1/3 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning and garlic in a small bowl.
- Pour half of marinade over chicken, top with the tomatoes, and drizzle the rest of the marinade over the whole dish.
- Let sit while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Meanwhile, prepare your couscous by toasting 1 cup of couscous in 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter for a few minutes in a medium saucepan. Once the couscous is slightly toasted add 1.5 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir, cover, and turn heat to low. Let simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes.
- Once the oven has preheated and the chicken has had a few minutes to marinate, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken from oven and top with shredded mozzarella. Broil for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- For the lemon basil couscous, stir together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and a little salt and pepper. Pour over couscous and top with basil and parmesan. Stir together until well combined. Season to taste.
- To serve, spoon couscous onto bowl or plate and top with the chicken and tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and basil and enjoy!