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Easy Panzanella Salad with Grilled Chicken

Panzanella Salad, a popular Italian summer salad filled with bread, tomatoes, and onions is kicked up a notch in this version with grilled bread and grilled marinated chicken! This Grilled Chicken and Panzanella Salad is simple to make and will become an instant classic summer dinner for your family.

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a white plate shot from overhead with sliced grilled chicken breast and a large serving of panzanella salad with tomatoes and grilled bread

Easy Summer Dinner Idea: What is Panzanella Salad?

Tomato salad with toasted bread, YUP!

In my version of this meal it is the epitome of a great al fresco summer dinner…

Fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, bread toasted on the grill…

Just add a glass of wine, great company, and a deck with twinkle lights and I am all set!

The best part, because I use a little handy cheater shortcut this recipe is so easy to make but feels like it should be something served at a restaurant!

Grilled Chicken Panzanella has the feel of a dinner meant for company but with the ease of making on a busy weeknight, it is seriously a dish you will continue to make all summer long.

What you need:

First off this is a grilling recipe so you will need a grill. This recipe can be easily made on either a charcoal or gas grill. The only thing that makes this recipe easier to make is a grill basket (like this one) to toast the bread cubes in.

If you don’t have a grill basket you could still grill the bread on a piece of tin foil, but having the basket helps immensely.

Next you will need to gather ingredients.

This recipe is somewhat of a cheater recipe opposed to most panzanella salads where you would make your own dressing from red wine vinegar, olive oil, ground black pepper, and fresh basil leaves. I am all about easiness on a summer evening and just grab a bottle of Italian Dressing.

So with that being said you need:

  • Trimmed Chicken Breasts
  • Italian Dressing
  • Crusty Bread
  • Olive Oil
  • Large Tomatoes (or more smaller tomatoes)
  • English Cucumber
  • Red Onion
  • Basil Leaves

Schmidty Wife Tip: As with all my chicken breast recipes I would like to note, if you are just grabbing a pack of chicken breasts at the store, unless you are buying them already trimmed or in cutlets they are probably going to be about double what a true portion size is. So a portion of chicken is 6-8 ounces which is roughly half a pound. Most chicken breasts at the store are about 1 pound these days, so simply butterfly-cut the chicken in half to form 2 cutlets that will become the proper potion size. OR if this is confusing look for chicken breasts already cut into cutlets or labeled ‘trimmed’ at the store. If you use a whole large chicken breast those are going to need longer to cook.

As far as the ingredients go they are pretty plain and simple. The biggest item to note is the bread. I call for 10oz in the recipe but you can grab a loaf that is a little bigger or smaller with no issues. You will want to look for a bread with a crunchy outside and soft inside, so anything like a sourdough, Italian, or French loaf of bread will work.

Traditionally the bread used in Panzanella salad is actually a tad on the stale side. So don’t be afraid to use that almost bad bread in this recipe!

ingredients for panzanella salad and chicken layer out on a white background

How to make it:

You will start by preparing the chicken for marinading. Add 1/2 cup of the Italian dressing and the chicken breasts to a sealable container for marinading. Let rest in fridge for at least 30 minutes but for best results marinade for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to start cooking preheat your outdoor grill to medium heat.

Prepare your bread for toasting on the grill. Roughly chop the bread into 1 inch cubes. Drizzle the cut up bread with the olive oil and toss to coat. Transfer the oiled bread cubes to a grilling basket.

Over direct medium heat grill the bread in the basket 8 to 9 minutes, tossing gently about every 3 minutes to ensure even cooking. You want to get your bread cubes brown and toasted.

1 inch cubes of crusty bread in a grilling basket on the grill

While the bread is cooking prepare the rest of the vegetables for the salad.

Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into bite size pieces (I like to remove the seeds from the cucumber but it isn’t necessary). Thinly slice the red onion.

Combine the cut vegetables into a large bowl and add the bread cubes once done toasting. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Italian dressing over the salad. Toss to coat and combine. Sprinkle with basil and continue tossing, you really want to get it mixed nicely so that the bread can soak in the dressing and liquids from the vegetables. Let the salad rest while you cook the chicken.

three photos showing the steps pf chopped vegetables, grill toasted bread, and pouring on Italian dressing
three photos showing the steps of adding the dressing to the salad and tossing together with basil leaves

To cook the chicken increase the heat on the grill to high. (If cooking over charcoal you will need to adjust the cooking time.)

Remove the chicken from the marinade letting any access dressing drip off of the chicken breasts. Transfer the chicken over direct heat. Cook 4 minutes. Flip and cook another 4-5 minutes until chicken is done.

Serve the Grilled Chicken next to the Panzanella Salad OR slice up the chicken and add right to the salad!

grilled chicken sliced up on a plate next to a large serving of panzanella salad with grilled bread

How do you know when grilled chicken is done?

When chicken is done juices should run clear and the internal temperature should reach 165ºF. Cooking time on the chicken will depend on the size of the chicken breasts used. I recommend using trimmed chicken breasts in this recipe to cut down the cooking time, larger chicken breasts will take longer to cook.

If you are constantly worried about meats and chicken being cooked properly I highly recommend getting a good quality meat thermometer. I absolutely love my Thermapen thermometer for cooking meats, it has been worth every penny to have a sound mind that my food is cooked properly.

What to serve with panzanella?

I created this recipe because I loved the idea that it is all inclusive of a whole meal which totally ends the questions of what to serve with panzanella. So with the addition of the chicken I think this meal is pretty well rounded, add a glass of wine and you are ready to go 😉

Can I make this ahead of time?

Absolutely. You can make it ahead of time a few different ways.

You can have everything prepped ahead of time. So the chicken marinated and the bread and vegetables all cut and ready to go on the grill once it is time to eat.

Or you can make everything ahead of time BUT only if you are planning on serving the same day. If you try to make the salad a full day ahead of time and let the salad sit overnight the bread will get too soggy to be enjoyable. Although on the other end if you are making it only a few hours ahead of time it will be perfect for serving!

close up of panzanella salad on a plate showing toasted bread cubes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions
two plates with wine glasses and forks sitting on a white table with servings of grilled chicken breast and panzanella salad

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a white plate shot from overhead with sliced grilled chicken breast and a large serving of panzanella salad with tomatoes and grilled bread

Panzanella Salad with Grilled Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Marinade Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Nothing beats a summery salad with grilled bread accompanied by marinated and grilled chicken! This Grilled Panzanella and Grilled Chicken dinner sounds complicated but couln't be eaiser with a few simple shortcuts!

Ingredients

  • 4 trimmed chicken breasts*
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 10oz Crusty Bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large tomatoes (4-5 smaller tomatoes)
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Prepare the chicken for marinading. Add 1/2 cup of the Italian dressing and the chicken breasts to a sealable container for marinading. Let rest in fridge for at least 30 minutes but for best results marinade for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat your outdoor grill to medium heat. Prepare your bread for toasting on the grill. Roughly chop the bread into 1 inch cubes. Drizzle the cut up bread with the olive oil and toss to coat. Transfer oiled bread to a grilling basket.
  3. Over direct medium heat grill the bread in the basket 8 to 9 minutes, tossing gently about every 3 minutes to ensure even cooking. You want to get your bread cubes brown and toasted.
  4. While the bread is cooking prepare the rest of the vegetables for the salad. Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into bite size pieces (I like to remove the seeds from the cucumber but it isn't necessary). Thinly slice the red onion.
  5. Combine the cut vegetables into a large bowl and add the toasted bread cubes. Drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup of Italian dresssing over the salad. Toss to coat and combine. Sprinkle with basil and continue tossing, you really want to get it mixed nicely so that the bread can soak in the dressing and liquids from the vegetables. Let the salad rest while you cook the chicken.
  6. To cook the chicken increase the heat on the grill to high. Remove the chicken from the marinade letting any access dressing drip off of the chicken breasts. Transfer the chicken over direct heat. Cook 4 minutes. Flip and cook another 4-5 minutes until chicken is done, juices should run clear and the internal temperature should reach 165ºF. Cooking time on the chicken will depend on the size of the chicken breasts. Cover the chicken and let rest 3-5 minutes before serving.
  7. Serve the Grilled Chicken next to the Panzanella Salad OR slice up the chicken and add right to the salad!

Notes

* As with all my chicken breast recipes I would like to note, if you are just grabbing a pack of chicken breasts at the store, unless you are buying them already trimmed or in cutlets they are probably going to be about double what a true portion size is. So a portion of chicken is 6-8 ounces which is roughly half a pound. Most chicken breasts at the store are about 1 pound these days, so simply butterfly-cut the chicken in half to form 2 cutlets that will be the proper potion size. OR if this is confusing look for chicken breasts already cut into cutlets or labeled 'trimmed' at the store. If you use a whole large chicken breast those are going to need longer a lot longer to bake then the recipe calls for.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 621Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 1027mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 4gSugar: 15gProtein: 45g

Nutritional data is automated, final nutritional information will depend on ingredients used and any changes made.

Did you make this recipe?

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Peace & Love

Lauren, The Schmidty Wife

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