Mixing it up once in a while can sometimes create something really great. Without taking chances in cooking (and life in general) we can find ourselves stuck in a rut. And who wants to be in a recipe rut?! With food especially, we tend to want to cook recipes we know how to cook and that are crowd pleasers. There is comfort in that…but comfort can sometimes lead to boredom. So why not take a risk and make something totally out there and new?
That is exactly what I have done with my favorite recipe…I threw in a twist.
The traditional Tuscan bread salad is made with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, torn croutons, peppers, and cucumbers. Always delicious! I decided to go totally nuts and swapped spring ingredients in for summer ingredients and added grilled chicken. The result was great.
The recipe is very straight forward. If you do not want to use bread in the salad, you can swap in one of your favorite grains like quinoa or farro.
Spring Panzanella with Grilled Chicken
1/2 Loaf of Bread, cut into 1 inch cubes or Slices of Baguette
½ Cup of Olive oil, for bread
1 Pint of assorted colored cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Cup of Asparagus, Steamed, Cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Cup of Green Beans, trimmed, cut in half horizontally, steamed
½ Cup of Radishes, thinly sliced
½ Cup of Kalamata Olives, Pitted
1-2 Tablespoons of Pine Nuts, toasted
4 Green Onions, Greens Sliced
6 Sprigs of Mint
4 Cups of Baby Arugula, washed
1 Small Clove Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon of Champagne Vinegar
Kosher salt, Fresh Ground Pepper
2 Split Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
1 Lemon, Juice and Zest
1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
3 Sprigs of Thyme, leaves only
1 pinch of Chili Flakes
1. Toss the bread cubes in the olive oil with salt and pepper. Lay the cubes flat on a baking sheet. Toast the bread cubes in the oven for 10 minutes or until lightly colored. They may need to be turned once or twice. Remove and set aside.
2. Make the vinaigrette by combining lemon juice, champagne vinegar, garlics, alt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil. Taste for seasoning.
3. Toss all of the ingredients together except the arugula in a large bowl with the vinaigrette (don’t pour all of the vinaigrette in at the same time). Allow the bread to absorb and add more vinaigrette if necessary. Before serving, toss in the arugula. Check for seasoning. You may need to drizzle a small amount of oil o the salad if the bread absorbs the oil.
1. Heat the grill on a high heat for about 10 minutes or until it is hot.
2. Season the chicken with lots of salt, chili flakes, and pepper.
3. Grill the chicken until it is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick the breast is. Remove it from the grill and allow the meat to sit for about 8 minutes. Slice the chicken into cubes and add to the salad once it has cooled slightly.
This makes a great dinner or weekend lunch. Enjoy!