This warm sourdough bread salad with chicken elevates the humble Italian dish, panzanella, with the addition of chicken, raisins, and pine nuts.
Bread salad is a traditional Italian way to make use of a day-old chunk of bread. When I added shredded cooked chicken and tossed it with a heap of greens, it became a well-balanced meal. Golden raisins and pine nuts are a really nice combination, especially if you like a touch of something sweet in your savory dishes.–Sara Foster
LC Surprise! Note
Tender. Crunchy. Savory Sweet. This satiating bread salad is full of contradictions, including how something so straightforward can taste so complex.
Sourdough Bread Salad with Chicken
For the vinaigrette
- 1 lemon halved
- 2 garlic cloves skin on
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the bread salad
- 4 cups 1-inch (25-mm) chunks of crusty, rustic-style sourdough bread
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- Sea salt
- 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted
- 2 garlic cloves smashed and roughly chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups loosely packed arugula, watercress leaves, or mixed baby greens washed and drained
- 2 scallions thinly sliced (white and green parts)
Start the vinaigrette
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Place the lemon, cut side down, and the whole garlic cloves in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast the lemon and garlic until they’re soft and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven (but keep the oven on) and set aside until they’re cool enough to handle.
Make the bread salad
- Increase the oven temperature to 475°F (245°C).
- Toss the bread chunks with the olive oil on a baking sheet and season with salt. Scatter the chunks in a single layer and toast until the bread is golden brown and the edges are crispy, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Juice the lemon into a small bowl. Peel the garlic cloves, add to the bowl with the lemon juice, and smash them with a fork. Add the vinegar and gradually whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken, raisins, pine nuts, and garlic to the bread and combine. Drizzle with half of the vinaigrette, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss gently to combine.
- Spread the salad on a rimmed baking sheet and place it in the oven for about 5 minutes, just to warm it slightly.
- Remove the salad from the oven and return it to the bowl you tossed it in. Add the arugula and scallions, and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Toss gently to combine, season with additional salt and pepper if desired, and serve warm.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This made a wonderful dinner. We enjoyed it so much (and had roast chicken left over) that we made a smaller version for lunch today. I was intrigued by the roasting of lemon and garlic cloves to make the vinaigrette—I’d never seen that done before. The flavor of the almost-caramelized lemon juice and the roasted garlic was quite lovely. All of the ingredients came together and made a very nice, flavorful main course salad. The only thing that needs changing, however, is the temperature of the oven and/or the length of time to bake the bread chunks. At 475 degrees, those bread chunks would’ve been burnt nuggets had I left them in for the 12 to 15 minutes. I set a timer for 4 minutes, checked the bread chunks, tossed them, and let them bake for 2 minutes more. They were perfect. This is just another example of how we should follow our instincts, no matter what the recipe says on paper.
Originally published March 09, 2010