Fast & Fresh

If you’re into chicken and you want it fast, this Chicken Cutlets with Tomatoes and Basil recipe is for you. Boneless chicken breasts cook very quickly when butterflied and pounded thin. Topped with tomatoes, garlic, and basil and served on a bed of arugula, they make a colorful and tasty weeknight supper.

August is prime time for ripe tomatoes and lots of fresh basil picked from your garden or purchased at the local farm stand. With just seven simple ingredients (and salt and pepper) the beauty of this meal is how quickly it all comes together. Served over a bed of subtly spicy baby arugula, you can’t go wrong.

Directions indicate to cook two breasts at once, but once pounded thin, we could only accommodate one at a time in the skillet. No problem, they literally only took two minutes per side. And at first glance, the tomato mixture seemed like overkill, but it was actually just enough for four servings. With a side of fresh corn on the cob, also an August staple, it was the perfect summer meal!


  • 1 lb. ripe plum tomatoes (5 medium), seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped (we used 2 cloves)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 lb.)
  • 4 oz. (4 loosely packed cups) baby arugula
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 200°F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, 3 Tbs. of the oil, the vinegar, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper.
  • Butterfly each chicken breast by slicing it horizontally almost but not entirely in half so you can open it like a book. Open and pound each breast between two pieces of plastic wrap with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan until 1/4 inch thick.
  • Pat the chicken dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs. of the remaining oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Cook two of the breasts until golden-brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until just cooked through, about 30 seconds more. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and chicken.
  • Divide the arugula among 4 dinner plates. Set the chicken on top, and spoon a generous amount of the tomato mixture and its juice over all.


By Arlene Jacobs

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