Panzanella with Chicken

I’ve been on a salad kick lately.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen a lot of salad pictures in my instastories because I’ve been eating them for lunch almost every day. It’s not often that I crave healthy food so I’ll run with it while I can. Believe me, it’s not all healthy all day. I have my share of chocolate chip cookies or ice cream later in the day. And if we’re being honest salads full of bread or bacon aren’t winning a lot of awards. It’s all about balance.

Panzanella is a Tuscan salad with stale bread soaked in an oil and vinegar dressing accompanied by a variety of vegetables of your choice. Bread in a salad? I’m game.

I’ve made a few versions of panzanella lately as a way to use up that last piece or two of sourdough bread. My husband bakes two loaves at a time roughly every two weeks. We eat one right away and pop the other one in the freezer to stay fresh until we’re done with the first loaf. I made this panzanella with whole wheat sourdough bread that he made. We don’t have a recipe on the blog yet because he’s still playing with the amount of whole wheat flour to make it “just right,” but hopefully it will be up soon.

I added cheese and chicken to my panzanella to kick it up a notch. I like the added protein because it sticks with you longer.

Some people might bake the stale bread chunks to get them to be more like a crouton texture, but I don’t bother with that step because I don’t think it’s necessary. As long as you use a hearty stale bread like sourdough, Italian, or baguette, then I think it comes out just dandy (plus it saves time). I feel that baking the bread into proper croutons that are crispy is silly if you are about to soak them in dressing.

I happen to love this combo of ingredients, but this is the kind of salad that you can wing. If you don’t like cucumbers, skip them. If you have onion or avocado then give that a whirl. Maybe add some olives or peperoncini peppers. You could make this vegetarian and skip the chicken or add chickpeas, which is totally up my alley because I prefer the vegetarian route. If you are lucky to have fresh basil handy, you could do a caprese version with basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, and doesn’t that sound like it would be a beaut of a summer treat. Sorry, I’m getting excited with all the wonderful variations but I suppose you get the idea. Bottom line is if it goes with bread and an oil and vinegar dressing, then you’re pretty good to go.

Panzanella with Chicken Recipe
(about 4 servings)

Ingredients for Salad:

  • stale bread, cubed (I used whole wheat sourdough bread.)
  • tomatoes, chopped (I used cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.)
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • cucumbers, sliced (I used miniature cucumbers.)
  • mozzarella cheese, chopped
  • grilled chicken, chopped (I used store bought chicken.)

Note: I purposely did not include measurements. Add however much you like of each ingredient, skip an ingredient, or add extra ingredients. You can’t go wrong if you make it to however YOU want. Also, you can make this for yourself or for your whole family.

Ingredients for Salad Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt, to taste

Directions for Salad Dressing:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, oil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt.

Directions for Salad:

  1.  In a big bowl, add the chopped bread, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, mozzarella cheese, and chicken.
  2. Pour in the dressing and stir everything together.

Source:  Tina’s Chic Corner

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