Sourdough Panzanella with Grilled Chicken Salad

Various Leavened Breads

Various Leavened Breads

By Cat,  June 2012 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Salads Menu; 2. Breads Menu; 3. Florentine Bread Salad

I know it sounds kinda weird with bread as the main salad ingredient, but it really is good – think of a Caesar Salad, or a greens salad with lots of croutons… Use a nice crusty old-world type sourdough bread or ciabatta.

Sourdough Panzanella with Grilled Chicken Salad

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), and is a main-course variation on the Florentine Bread Salad. It doesn’t include greens, but I like to serve it on a bed of greens.

You need slightly stale, crusty (mostly) white sourdough such as Ciabatta, for this salad. It’s best to make it a few hours in advance, to let the bread soak up some of the dressing, and for the flavors to meld.

You’ll get the best results if you cube most ingredients about the same size (¾ inch).

Serves 4.


Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Chicken:
  • 2 small chicken breasts, about 8 oz each (or 1 large breast, halved), bone removed, brined
  • olive oil for the grill
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
  • ½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salad:
  • 4 – 6 oz slightly stale Ciabatta or other sourdough bread, sliced ¾” thick
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium cucumber or ½ English cucumber
  • 4 medium tomatoes, or 3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 – 3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as basil, parsley, cilantro, chervil, mint
  • Dressing and garnish
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ – ½ tsp anchovy paste
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • Unrefined sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Equipment
  • blender, or jar with lid
  • large salad bowl


  1. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill; clean and oil the grill’s grate.
  2. Remove bone from chicken breast; remove skin if you wish. Brine for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prep veggies and bread:  Peel regular cucumber (no need to peel an English cucumber). Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, slice in half lengthwise again, then cut in ¾” slices
  4. Cut tomato into ¾” pieces or cut tomato/grape tomatoes in half, about 3 cups
  5. Chop onion to make about½ cup
  6. Chop herbs
  7. Slice bread ¾” thick. Brush 2 Tbsp olive oil onto slices, then cut bread into cubes and set aside.
  8. Chicken: Combine oregano, paprika and ½ tsp pepper (If you didn’t brine the chicken, add ½ tsp salt to this mix). Sprinkle over the chicken breasts.
  9. Grill, turning once, until internal temperature of 165°F is reached, 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from grill and rest about 5 minutes, then cut into ¾” cubes.
  10. Dressing:  Mince the garlic, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt and crush with side of knife blade.
  11. Measure vinegar, lemon juice, basil and 1/4 tsp pepper into blender; add garlic and blend well. Or, if using a jar, measure the ingredients into a jar, add the garlic, screw on lid and shake well.
  12. Slowly add olive oil to blender while it is running and blend well. Or, if using a jar, add oil all at once to the jar, and shake again.
  13. Salad: Place cubed bread and chicken in salad bowl with veggies.
  14. Pour dressing over cubed bread and chicken. Adjust seasoning and chill until ready to serve.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve over a bed of greens or spinach


  1. Fine Cooking recipe:

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