Monday, June 6, 2011

Classic Italian with a Twist

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I love Italian food. Any type of Italian food - I have yet to meet an Italian dish I don't like. Still, many of the classic dishes or even classic Italian-American dishes tend to be heavy and calorie-filled. This recipe is a great twist of the flavors of Chicken Parmesan, presenting it in a salad form with a delicious tomato-y dressing.

I hit the local farmer's market for the first time this season and while the fresh veggies and fruits are still a little sparse (not quite harvest time for the usual produce around here!), I was able to get a ton of summer squash and found this amazing artisan basil tomato bread. The squash was such a great price, I couldn't help but take home pounds of it, so it will be featured prominently this week!

Chicken Salad with Parmesan Breadcrumbs


- 1 roma tomato (quartered)
- 4 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, plus 2 tbsp. of oil from the jar
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic (roast the garlic first if you don't enjoy the sharper taste of raw garlic)
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 good-sized bunch of fresh basil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 lb. chicken (either in boneless breasts or boneless tenders)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley (chopped)
- 6 cups salad greens
- 8 oz. fresh small mozzarella balls (I used mozzarella "pearls")


Puree the roma tomato, sundried tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, oregano, a few basil leaves and 2 tbsp. Parmesan in a blender - drizzling in the sundried tomato oil until the mixture is smooth. Add 2-3 tbsp. of water to loosen up the mixture, then season with salt and pepper.

2. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces/strips - basically however you'd like to eat it on top of a salad. Season it well with salt and pepper, then saute it in olive oil until tender and fully cooked. Once the chicken is cooked, pile it on a plate and set aside, wipe out the skillet you used to cook the chicken.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper - cooking, stirring occasionally until golden brown (about 2 minutes). Add 3 tbsp. Parmesan and the parley, cooking until toasted (about 1 more minute).

3. I divided up the salads into two large bowls, since my husband and I were the only ones eating - but if you want to serve a larger crowd, just assemble the salad in one large bowl. Toss the salad greens and remaining basil leaves, top with the chicken and mozzarella balls, then add the dressing and sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top.

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