Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes

Pull out the grill!  This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!

Pull out the grill! This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!Can we talk about cooking pasta for a second?  We all know how to cook pasta, right?  You bring a pot of water to a boil, drop the pasta in, set a kitchen timer and let it cook.  Then just drain the pasta and you’re all set.  Well, sorta.  As simple as it is to boil a pot of pasta, I’ve picked up a couple of secret tips over the years.

The first tip to making great pasta is to salt the pasta water.  A chef friend of mine used to say that pasta water should taste like the ocean.  As she was professionally trained in Italy, I trust her advice when it comes to pasta!  (She also recommended waiting until the water came to a boil before adding the salt…just FYI.)

That whole thing about salted water boiling faster?  It’s a lie.  Sorta.  It takes an ounce of salt to lower the boiling temperature by 1°F.  So if you want to add a pound of salt to your water, then it might speed things up.  But eating that pasta might taste a bit like a horse licking a salt block out in the field.  How’s that for a mental image?  Oh, and use sea salt or kosher salt.  Regular table (iodized) salt will give your pasta a funky, metallic taste.

Pull out the grill! This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!The second tip is to save some of the pasta water.  Yes, that murky, salty water is as valuable as gold…save it!  (Well, maybe it’s not as valuable as gold, but it’s still worth saving.)  If you’re adding a sauce to the pasta, then the best bet is to actually undercook the pasta by about 2 minutes.  Then just finish cooking the pasta in the sauce with a couple tablespoons of pasta water.  This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes doesn’t really have a sauce, so go ahead and cook the pasta fully.  But still save the pasta water!

Pull out the grill! This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!That starchy pasta water plays a huge role when it comes to pulling the whole dish together.  Have you ever noticed that pasta (particularly long pasta like spaghetti) has the tendency to clump once you drain it.  It sticks together in a gooey mass leaving you to wonder how to separate it back into strands of perfect pasta.  Well the answer is pasta water!

If we could go back in time, we could bottle this stuff and sell at as a magical cure-all.  Just transfer that cooked pasta into a large skillet and add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water.  The starchy water will magically loosen the pasta again.  Whenever we make pasta, we actually save a little container of pasta water in the fridge next to the leftovers.  When it comes time to heat that pasta back up, guess what goes into the pan with the pasta?  Yup, the pasta water!  And that little trick avoids the dilemma of leftover pasta tasting like…well…leftover pasta.

Pull out the grill! This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!Ok, I’m done with talking about pasta water.  If you actually read all of that, then thank you.  If you chose to scroll down here to the recipe, then I understand that, too.  (Of course, you’ll see that I call out saving the pasta water in the recipe…but at least now you know why!)

This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one excellent summer meal.  The chicken is marinated in a balsamic vinegar marinade, so it keeps it nice and juicy once grilled.  Not only do I love marinating chicken because it enhances the flavor, but it also gives me a little leeway once I put the chicken on the grill.  If I get sidetracked and the chicken grills for a couple extra minutes, no problem.  I mean I can’t come inside and watch an episode of Better Call Saul or anything, but still…the marinade helps keep the chicken juicy and flavorful.

Pull out the grill! This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!I didn’t use a sauce for this Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes.  Instead, as the name suggests, I simply stirred a bunch of burst cherry tomatoes into the pasta along with some fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.  The result is a delicious, summertime dinner!  Enjoy, my friends!

Pull out the grill! This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!

Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes

Pull out the grill!  This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Marinating Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 667kcal

Ingredients

For the Balsamic Chicken

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh rosemary minced
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

For the Pasta

  • 2 10-oz. containers cherry tomatoes (I used 1 yellow and 1 red)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 16 oz. spaghetti or bucatini pasta
  • cup fresh basil leaves chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

For the Balsamic Chicken

  • Using a small bowl, whisk all Balsamic Chicken ingredients (except for chicken breasts) together.
  • Place chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish. Add the marinade, turning to fully coat chicken breasts. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours up to overnight.
  • Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade.
  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  • Once preheated, grill chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, flipping once, or until fully cooked. Let chicken rest for 6-8 minutes before slicing.

For the Pasta

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Using a medium bowl, add the tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper; toss until well coated.
  • Spread the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and roast at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, or until they are just beginning to burst.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. (Tip: Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.)
  • Using a deep sauté pan, add cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, basil, Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and 2-3 Tbsp of the reserved pasta water; stir until well combined.
  • Transfer pasta to plates and top with sliced Balsamic Chicken before serving.

Pull out the grill! This Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Burst Tomatoes is one tasty summer recipe!

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34 Comments

  1. I read every word of your pasta water discussion! (I get a gold star right? Yes, I was that student in my school days.) I love a good discussion of proper pasta cookery. Clearly I was destined to have a food blog :). I also learned from a chef friend to salt the pasta water till it tastes like the sea. But he’s German so I’m glad to hear it confirmed by an Italian. This looks like the most amazing summer meal imaginable. Have a great afternoon, David!

    1. Yes, you absolutely get a gold star! Or an A+ written in red with a circle around it. You might even get a sticker next to it…unless that’s too childish? What are the rules for giving out stickers for good work these days? 🙂 This really is one heck of a tasty summer meal. I’m kinda obsessed with burst tomatoes lately! Thanks, Kelsie!

  2. Hi David. Of course I read your entire post, as I always do. This is wonderful (and quick) meal. Great tip on saving some pasta water for leftovers. My personal preference is bucatini; I like the “chew” factor.

    1. Why thank you very much, Dorothy! I always wonder whether people actually read posts are just scroll straight to the bottom. But either way, it makes the posts more interesting if I write something fun in there. Oh, and bucatini is totally a legit pasta! You don’t see it too often, but I actually found a box in the store (a different store that I don’t go to much) and I’m really excited now. It’s the little things, right? Haha!

  3. I agree with you David, about starchy water! it mustn’t be discard so easily! I love balsamic, so you had my attention since you hit publish! Lovely pics David!

    1. I used to just pour that pasta water down the drain, but it actually has so much value! Now it stays in a little container in the fridge…if we actually have leftovers, that is. Haha! Thanks so much, Gaila!!

  4. Thanks for the 411 on the pasta, David. I happy to confirm that I am cooking it right, lol 😀 LOVE pasta! I could seriously eat every single day, but, I don’t. I don’t know if that would necessarily be the best idea, but I totally would if my clothes allowed….hehehe. I don’t know if you know, but I also love vinegar and use it on the regular. So this dish is definitely calling my name. Looks so bright and deeeeeelicious and would make me very happy if it were in front of me right now 🙂 Thnaks for another wicked one, my friend!

    1. I could seriously eat pasta every day, too, Dawn! And I love it in so many ways. Classic red sauce, grilled veggies, topped with chicken/beef/seafood. You name it, I’m game! So I do love vinegar, but not as much as pasta. My mom used to clean the floors with vinegar when I was a kid, so I have an aversion to the smell. #TrueStory I hope your week is going well so far, my friend! Thank you!

  5. Wow! What a festival of colors! I had something similar in hong kong once but that had flat noodles. I am guessing the process is a little different w.r.t. the pasta water.

    1. Hey there, Andy! Thank you so much for the kind words. Yeah, I would guess the process is a bit different with Chinese noodles, but I’m not entirely positive there. I don’t recall noodles clumping as much as pasta does? Either way, the flavors in this one are perfect for summer. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting! 🙂

    1. I totally agree with you, Rachelle! I love a good pasta + sauce, but there is no sauce needed here. Burst tomatoes are kinda my new obsession lately. They are so much fun…plus, they just sound cool to say. 🙂

  6. David, I didn’t scroll down to the recipe. I’ve read every single line (some of them 5 times). Also, I’ve printed this post, and that will be my sacral reading. We can talk about pasta more than a second. Take your time, professor David. For the time being, I’m trying to make pasta as rarely as possible. I know, the Italians would say good quality pasta makes a healthy meal. Agree. But the problem is that I cannot stop myself when it comes to pasta. Seriously, there’s almost no such a thing like “pasta leftovers” in our house. And when I cook it, somehow I always make more than a moderate bowl. So please when you’re preparing my order for shipping, please place just a small (2-3 pound) container of this delicious pasta&chicken.

    1. Haha…ok, I knew you were lying when you said you read some of the lines 5 times. But thank you for being nice, Ben! 🙂 And I totally know what you mean about having to stop yourself with pasta. It’s just so comforting and so delicious that I can’t help myself! This version is perfect for summer, but you could totally put this over a grain like rice or farro, too. Also, you assume there’s leftovers to send to you. Silly Ben. Hah!

    1. Yes, pasta water is so helpful when it comes to separating that clumpy pasta back out again. And it’s great for reheating pasta leftovers. Just spoon a couple of tablespoons in there and stir…it’s like magic! 🙂 Thanks, Dawn!

  7. Great pasta cooking tips David! I’m no expert and I’m grateful for the reminders about using that pasta water to stop the sticking of my pasta prior to serving. And that’s a new one for me, use kosher salt or sea salt. OK I’ve always just used regular cooking salt before but I’m going to change that right away, so thanks my friend!

    Fantastic recipe and I’m a HUGE fan of oven baking those cherry tomatoes to get them to “burst”! It so brings out their full flavour.

    Hope you and the family have a great weekend David. 🙂

    1. Yes! I switched to using kosher salt a while back, and it really has made a difference. I keep a little salt cellar right next to the stove and add in a pinch here and there as needed. But I still use regular table salt for baking…the kosher salt sinks to the bottom instead of getting blended in. Trust me. I speak from experience. Kosher = Cooking. Regular = baking. 🙂

      Also, I’m kinda obsessed with burst tomatoes lately. Give ’em a shot sometime. Such easy flavor, and it’s kinda fun to say! Thanks, Neil!!

  8. Very much enjoyed reading about pasta water – great tips and I wish I had read them when I was younger. It took me a while to figure out how to cook pasta properly, of course, you could just add them to boiling water but these little tips make such a difference and I wish more cookbooks would mention it. The first time I read about adding pasta water to pasta dishes was in one of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks and I had great discussions with my husband in the past whether salty water cooks faster 😉

    1. Yeah, I agree with you about pasta water, Miriam! It’s one of those things that no one really talks about in recipes. It just says cook the pasta. And as easy as pasta is to cook, there are some tips about making it even better. Next time you and your husband start chatting about salted water and boiling temperatures, you can get all nerdy and pull out some stats from that article I linked above. You’ll win the argument hands down. 🙂 Thanks so much my friend!

  9. So… we’ve salted our water before cooking pasta – but I was a believer of the whole salted water boiling faster dealio and didn’t think to wait to add salt to the water AFTER it started boiling or be mindful of the type of salt I was adding! Lil Shashi LOVES pasta and I’ve gotta share these with her – also, never, ever have I thought to save pasta water and use it to heat up and uncling pasta – Dang, David – thanks so much for all the this info!
    And – what a delightful meal you have here – loving that Balsamic marinade –
    that chicken combined with the sauceless pasta and those flavor-packed “burst” tomatoes would have lil Shashi in a food coma for sure (though I might have to sub the chicken for tofu as she’s still a vegetarian).

    1. Yeah, I always thought salted water boiled faster, too…turns out I was wrong! And that pasta water? It’s seriously like gold. Whenever you have leftover pasta (which happens a lot around here as we LOVE our pasta), pasta water is the key to making it taste, well, not like leftover pasta. 🙂

      I’m thinking you could totally sub in tofu here. It would absorb all of the delicious flavors from the marinade…maybe even better than the chicken? I bet Lil Shashi would love this one. It’s perfect for summer! Thanks so much, Shashi. I hope you gals are doing well down South!

    1. Haha! I love the way you put that. So technically we have found the fountain of youth, right? That’s it. I’m eating more pasta now…or at least drinking more pasta water. Uhhh…yeah. Haha! 🙂 Thanks, Lindsay!

  10. My boyfriend loves pasta and I can’t remember the last time I made pasta for myself, so I’ll take all the tips you have to offer David 🙂 The water tasting like the ocean makes sense, adding salt to the water after it boils is something I never thought about. No more regular iodized salt in my pasta water. Loving the addition of bursted tomatoes, I might this recipe for my special guy.

    1. You should totally make this recipe, Mary! It’s really pretty easy, and those burst tomatoes bring so much delicious flavor. And, yes, save that pasta water! It’s liquid gold when it comes to pulling the final dish together…or reheating it (if there are leftovers). I hope you and the boyfriend have an awesome weekend, my friend! 🙂

  11. I was really hoping that “burst tomatoes” were small tomatoes that were rigged with tiny explosives, as, you know, a kind of party trick. But still, I think you’re on to something here. 😉

    1. Hey, that would have been one heck of a party trick! Actually, I might have to get working on that this weekend. “Hey guys, wanna see something cool?” <--- Dave's famous last words.

    1. Why thank you very much for the kind words, Pamela! I love this dish as it’s really pretty simple…and it tastes like summer on a plate! 🙂 I hope you are having a great weekend so far, my friend!

  12. So true about pasta water – it makes an incredibly silky sauce, especially when combined with burst tomatoes. What a mouthwatering dish!

    1. Pasta water really is like gold! That stuff can transform a meal. It’s crazy how it just solves the whole ‘clumped-together’ pasta problem. Thanks, Marissa!!

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