Monday, June 8, 2009

Bread Salad with Chicken Bites

I keep seeing recipes for bread salad, and they always sound delicious, but for some reason I've never gotten around to making one. Tonight was the night. This one is fun, colorful, and full of interesting texture contrasts. I added a couple of additional vegetables to the original recipe to give it even more contrast. There's some spiciness, tanginess, crunchiness and more.

It's important that you use good quality tomatoes for this recipe. Tomato season hasn't officially started yet, but I found these amazing tomatoes at the farmers market on Saturday and they spoke to me. Don't use some pale mealy tomatoes from the supermarket. You need the good stuff for this.

Prepare yourself for the onslaught of flavor!

Bread Salad with Chicken Bites
adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook
serves 2


2 cups day-old 1" crusty bread cubes
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO, divided
1 clove garlic
2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 radishes, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half, cut into 1" cubes
canola oil for pan frying
handful fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped


1. Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and scatter the bread cubes on it. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon EVOO. Bake, turning once, until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, rub each bread cube with the garlic clove. Set aside.

2. Mince the rest of the garlic clove and put in a large bowl with tomatoes, radishes, cucumber, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO, and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Spread the panko on a sheet of wax paper or a plate and roll each chicken piece to coat with bread crumbs. Put a thin layer of canola oil in a medium skillet and warm over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the chicken bites until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning about halfway through. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove and set on a paper towel to drain.

4. Add the hot chicken bites, bread cubes, and fresh basil to the salad. Toss and serve immediately.

Unfortunately, the bread cubes and chicken lose their crunch after sitting in the dressing, so this is not a make-ahead meal. Enjoy!

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