I do love a good panzanella salad, and this chicken and bacon panzanella salad is definitely no exception. Panzanella salad is a salad made with chunks of bread and tomato, and it is definitely glorious in the summertime when the tomatoes are at their peak. (I miss you, summer tomatoes!) But it is also the very best kind of salad to have in the chilly months, when you want some salad but you also want something warm and substantial to get you through the last blast of winter. This version adds chicken and cucumber and onion and BACON to the equation, and is just the ticket to panzanella happiness. Let’s make it!
This recipe for chicken and bacon panzanella salad is a hearty bowl full of all the good things!Click To TweetIt was especially necessary this past week, as we were smack in the middle of that blizzard that came to visit the East Coast. Yep, literally right after we had finished clearing up all the winter sticks and leaves in our yard and gotten ourselves ready for those first spring buds, THIS happened.
Makes you want to run right outside and pull up a chair at our patio table and breathe in that nice spring air, right? HA. Some members of the family put on their gloves and their Clemson hat and went outside to attack the 14 inches of snow that piled up that day.
Others wore their lucky Clemson collar and lounged around illegally on the bed.
By the end of the day, everyone was giving thanks that the power had held up during the storm, and we were ready for a nice hearty bowl of panzanella goodness. If you have a leftover hunk of Italian or French bread, that (along with a blizzard) is an excellent reason to make panzanella. Cut it up into nice little cubes, crust and all please. Now cut some boneless chicken and some bacon into bite sized pieces as well. Ditto for some cucumber, some red onion and some cherry tomatoes (which magically hold on to their tomato taste all year long). I promise all this chopping is going to be worth it.
Cook up the bacon in a skillet until it is nice and crispy, and then scoop it out. You are going to use the lovely bacon drippings to toast up the bread cubes and then the chicken chunks. After that all that is left to do is to toss the bacon and chicken and toasted bread with the veggies, and to drizzle some of your favorite vinaigrette dressing on top. If you are feeling ambitious you can make your own – click here for my friend Robyn’s easy recipe. (By the way, Robyn has a cookbook coming out soon, and I’ve seen an early copy of it, and I am here to tell you that YOU WANT THIS COOKBOOK. More on her cookbook to come in later posts, because I am pretty much obsessed with it. Yay Robyn!)
Meanwhile back at the salad, you can also use bottled vinaigrette and that will work just fine. Here is my all time favorite dressing, from the always fabulous Stonewall Kitchen.
I mean, maple and bacon. Obviously. Yum.
Now you want to do what I always beg you to do with salads, which is drizzle on a little dressing and taste. Drizzle and taste. Drizzle and taste, until there is the perfect amount of dressing. You can always add more dressing, but you can never take it away. This is a reality.
Now put a pitcher full of tulips on the table, dish out the salad and Think Spring. It WILL come.
- 6 pieces thick cut bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 4 cups bread cubes from a loaf of Italian bread (leave the crusts on!)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, cut in half and sliced
- ½ small red onion, chopped
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Your favorite vinaigrette salad dressing
- Cook the bacon in a heavy deep skillet until it is done to your liking. Scoop it out, leaving the drippings in the pan, and drain on paper towels.
- Add the bread cubes to the skillet along with a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook in the drippings over medium high heat until toasted. Scoop out and set aside.
- Add the chicken to the pan and stir until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Put bacon, bread cubes, chicken cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley in a large bowl. Drizzle with a little dressing, taste and repeat until the salad has just enough dressing for your liking. Add a little more salt and pepper if needed and serve!