Ok – so let me preface with – this is not a “true” Panzanella salad in every sense of the word. There is not near the amount of bread that is in a typical Panzanella and I’ve added greens in lieu of all of the bread. Nor did I marinade the croutons in tomato juices, etc. BUT, it eats like a Panzanella. Everything is in big pieces and the juices from the roasted tomatoes create some of the dressing and that seeps into the croutons and mmm… I mean, I can’t get enough!
This is one of those salads I crave at least once a week. It is one of my favorite and easiest meals to make. And yes, I just called a salad a meal and I promise you will feel this way once you’ve had this one!
Mo and I are eaters. Foodies for sure. But we really like to eat food. 🙂 So if you haven’t made any of my other salads and therefore you’re not “in the know” yet – you can trust that my salads are not for the faint of heart. This definitely took some convincing with Mo when I first started cooking for him. This is where the “inside joke” of “We’re having a ‘big salad’ for dinner…” came from. When I was racing triathlon a bunch and had a full load of clients, etc., etc. salads were an almost nightly thing at our house! But if you ask Mo – he loves them. They are filling, full of nutrition and full of flavor and texture! …I’m big on texture! Gotta have some crunch!
So this salad pulls out my Italian heritage. As I said, it is not an exact replica of a true Panzanella salad. But, the anti-inflammatory nutritionist in me cannot help myself, plus, we really like it better this way!
Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
Primal Panzanella Salad
Ingredients for the Salad:
- 1lb free range chicken breast, cubed
- 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¾ large container pre-washed baby spinach
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves, julienned
- 1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
- ½ cup goat cheese crumbles
- 1 large avocado, diced into large pieces
- 1 ½ cups baby cherry tomatoes
- 2-3 pieces good sourdough bread, cut into large pieces
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Real Salt and black pepper, to taste
- ½ – 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Directions for the Salad:
- Place chicken a large Ziploc baggie with 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, lemon zest and juice, oregano and ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp black pepper. Seal bag and gently toss (over the sink – yes, I’ve learned the hard way! J) to combine. Marinade for 30 minutes, up to overnight. Pull out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line two small sheet pans with foil.
- While oven is heating up, on one sheet pan, place the tomatoes and on the other sheet pan, lay the sourdough out, in an even layer. Drizzle the tomatoes and sourdough with ½ tbsp olive oil each and sprinkle both with salt and black pepper. Set the croutons aside and place the tomatoes into the oven to roast for 7-10 minutes until slightly browned and starting to burst open.
- Using tongs, pull the chicken out of the bag and place each piece in an even layer, without touching, onto a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; discard the remaining marinade. Let cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until each piece is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, in a large salad/serving bowl place spinach, basil, goat cheese and avocado.
- When you’re ready to pull the tomatoes out of the oven, place sourdough on the top rack of the oven to toast for 2-3 minutes and pour the tomatoes, while hot, in with the spinach and then add the chicken.
- Drizzle remaining olive oil and balsamic over the top and toss gently to combine and coat with the dressing. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (if using) and place croutons on top. Toss again to combine and serve!