Panzanella is a Tuscan-style bread salad made with a loaf of day-old (or older) bread, cubed into large croutons and tossed with vinaigrette or other dressing to soften it. The translation we have found for “panzanella” is “bread in a swamp,” the swamp being the water or vinaigrette in which it was soaked.
While Italian loaves are used in the original, you can use any bread from baguette to challah to semolina raisin to sourdough. Chopped salad vegetables are then added.
In this recipe, adapted from one by Annie of Annie’s Eats for Go Bold With Butter, a protein is added to make it into a luncheon salad. Annie (and we) use grilled chicken; we also like grilled salmon. But you can use any protein and it’s a great way to use up leftovers.
Instead of a Chicken Caesar, try a Chicken Panzanella. Photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com..
Annie grills the bread. We live an apartment without a grill, so we baked the croutons in the oven (recipe below).
We save time by buying pre-grilled, shrink-wrapped chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s.
RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN PANZANELLA
Ingredients For 4-6 Servings
For The Chicken
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive or canola oil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
For The Salad
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, sliced and quartered into wedges
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced, or halved cherry tomatoes*
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Optional: fresh herbs of choice
*Off-season tomatoes tend to be bland. When tomatoes aren’t in season, you can substitute red bell pepper, grilled red pepper (pimento) or sundried tomatoes.
We prefer a crusty loaf, but any day-old bread can be used for panzanella. Photo courtesy Sur La Table.
1. PREHEAT a grill to medium-high heat. While the grill is heating, make the marinade.
2. COMBINE the lemon juice, canola oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, mixing briefly to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Meanwhile…
3. PREPARE the bread slices. Combine the butter, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix until evenly combined. Spread a thin layer of the garlic butter on both sides of each slice of bread.
4. GRILL the chicken on the heated grill until browned on the outside, turning once. The internal temperature should register 160°F. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate or cutting board to rest briefly. Meanwhile…
5. PLACE the bread slices on the grill and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes total. Keep a close eye on the bread to prevent charring. Remove the finished bread pieces to a plate or cutting board.
6. CUT up the chicken and the bread into bite-size pieces and add to a large bowl. Add the cucumber, tomatoes and feta; toss gently just until evenly combined. Serve immediately.
1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.
2. CUT bread into cubes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you like heat, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Mix well.
3. SPREAD cubes in a single layer on a shallow pan or cookie sheet pan and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.