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Chicken Panzanella Salad

Chicken Panzanella (chicken, tomatoes, basil, onions and croutons) on a white plate.

Basically a Caprese Salad with Croutons

If you like caprese salad and a nice warm Homemade Croutons that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, then this Panzanella Salad is right up your ally. Pepé and I make panzanella quite a lot. We grow our own basil and often have more than we can eat. SO many people have told me that I make the BEST Basil Pesto ever! You can make a bunch and freeze it for later. Sometimes we grow our own tomatoes, but we didn’t get around to it this year – Good thing too because our neighbors grew tomatoes and gave us quite a lot. If you’re a vegetarian, skip the chicken. If you’re allergic to gluten, then skip the croutons. It’s a very versatile salad with endless possibilities.  

Add Ons and Options

Just like all salads… You can add anything you like. You can add any of your other favorite vegetables such as grilled asparagus, or sliced cucumbers. Sometimes I even like to top it with a fried egg – because I just love when the croutons soak up that runny yolk. Are you drooling yet?

Panzanella salad topped with a fried egg that is cut so the yolk runs out.
Oh yeah… I went there. You’re welcome. 🙂

 

Sometimes I’ll add my Homemade Balsamic Glaze that can be used for so many thing including this Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart that you could have for dessert.

strawberry tart with basil garnish

Not All Croutons are Created Equal

Rustic bread sliced to make croutons.

Seriously. I probably say this too often, but I never liked store bought croutons or even the ones they serve in most restaurants. I like them right out of the oven. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. NOT hard brittle chunks that go flying everywhere as soon as you try to stab one with a fork.

Pepé with his representation of the Italian Flag made with Italian ingredients

Basil, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes arranged in rows to represent the Italian flag. There's a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.
Pepé’s quite proud of his representation of an edible Italian flag in a bowl.

Chicken Panzanella Salad in a square white bowl with a fresh basil garnish and a nutcracker in the foreground who looks like a chef.

Chicken Panzanella Salad

Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 10 Ounces Tomato (any tomato cut into bite size pieces)
  • 10 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (cut into 1/4” - 1/3” pieces)
  • 10 Ounces Cooked Chicken (about 1 large breast or 2 thighs)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil (chopped)
  • 2 Thick Slices of Roasted Garlic Bread (or other dense rustic bread)
  • 1 Small Onion (red or yellow, sliced)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil + more for croutons (extra virgin)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  • Start by getting the croutons ready to bake. Preheat oven to 425°F. I prefer a toaster oven because it heats up quick and takes less energy. Cut the bread slices into cubes and put them into a large bowl. Drizzle them with a light coating of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss them a bit to coat each piece with the olive oil.
  • Pour croutons onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 6-8 minutes. Check to see if the outside is starting to get crisp. You want them slightly crispy on the outside and still slightly soft on the inside.
  • Combine all in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and serve immediately so the croutons don’t get soggy.
  • I like to get a piece of everything combined all in one bite. It all goes so well together.

Notes

Note: I like to time it to where the croutons are still warm when I mix it all up and that everyone is ready to eat. Nobody wants a soggy croûton and that is what you’ll have it you let this sit too long.
An alternative option is to drizzle with a balsamic glaze. You can buy one or follow this link for my recipe. It will keep for many months because it’s vinegar.

 

What type of tomatoes can I use?

Whatever type of tomatoes you have on hand or your favorite tomato will work. Make sure they are in bite size pieces.

What type of onions can I use?

White, yellow, or red onions all work great. Green onions are only recommended if  they are an addition to other onions.

What type of bread can I use?

A nice rustic loaf such as a roasted garlic bread works great. Regular sandwich bread is not recommended.


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