A skinless chicken breast half is a protein powerhouse; a serving of this salad offers almost 44 grams of protein (about a day's worth). Plus, poultry offers B vitamins, zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 cups (1-inch) cubed tomato
2 cups diced ciabatta bread (about 4 ounces)
1 cup thinly sliced celery (2 stalks)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
How to Make It
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat, and chop.
Place tomato in a large bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add chicken, bread, and the remaining ingredients to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine. Serve immediately.
I make this in the summer almost every other week because the ingredients are usually readily available and very fresh - it's so refreshing and has a great flavor with the vinegar. Definitely make it with all the veggies, but I usually leave the chicken on the side as a grilled dish (and also grill corn along with it to finish out the meal). The panzanella will keep in a sealed container for about 2 days in the fridge, so you can use it as double duty for a salad dish the next night too. Only use cibatta bread as you don't want a soggy result - to save time check with your local bakery dept to ask them to cut the bread into cubes (they just have to run it through the slicer twice opposite ways) and bag up the cubes for you. Otherwise, if you are fairly "okay" on your knife skills, chopping & tossing this salad is only ~20 minutes (exactly enough time to grill your chicken breasts & sweet summer corn on the cob) - enjoy!
I eat this all the time as both a main dish and side dish. It is super-easy and very healthy. I substitute grape seed oil for olive oil (I prefer grape seed oil for vinaigrettes). I generally just substitute shredded rotisserie chicken from the deli counter (about 1/2 lb, give or take) to make this a total no-cook meal. Sometimes I omit the bread, and I have on occasion substituted cilantro for basil, and it has come out fine.
Made this last night and it went over very well with the following changes: my grocery store didn't have ciabatta, so I used toasted herb bread; I sprinkled the chicken with garlic pepper instead of just salt and pepper; and I followed a previous reviewer's suggestion by adding romaine and shredded parmesan (because of the added lettuce I used 3 tablespoons each of olive oil and red wine vinegar). This salad was filling and tasty, and I will make it again. It did take me quite a while to prepare simply because of all the chopping involved-it wasn't exactly "quick."