Sesame Panzanella with Grilled Chicken

Winter seems unwilling to go away here in the Midwest.  We had 2 days of warm weather and now the forecast is cold and wet again.  The wet is good.  The cold is not.  I am so ready for warm days and gardening.  Salads and grilled foods…..I don’t want to wait anymore!

So to make up for the injustice of it all (can weather be unjust?), I decided to make something with a bit of summer flavor to it.  Panzanella is an Italian bread salad.  The bread is toasted and combined with fresh vegetables and an herb dressing.  Since I can’t get fresh summer vegetables, I used a slightly different combination.  I also made a sesame dressing with sun dried tomatoes in it to give that blast of tomato flavor.  A little feta cheese to round out the flavors of the broccoli, red onions and sweet peppers and it was ready to go.  My guys really liked it (second helpings).  It was quick, easy and delicious, that’s what this site is all about.

You’ll need:

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One medium sized loaf of your favorite crusty bread ( I get the day old stuff at the local bakery-whole grain if you can), cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch size cubes.

Olive oil, as needed

One large head of broccoli, broken into small florets

1 cup sliced sweet peppers

1/2 large red onion chopped

1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 cups diced grilled chicken (see how to have it on hand here)

2 cups of sun dried tomato and sesame dressing (recipe at bottom of post)

Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil followed by the bread cubes.  Toast the bread until it begins to crisp up.  Place cubes in large mixing bowl.

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Add more olive oil to pan and saute the broccoli, red onion and peppers until tender crisp.  Add vegetables to bread cubes.  Heat grilled chicken in microwave and add it, along with the olives and feta to the mixing bowl.  Pour dressing over entire contents and toss well.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

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SD Tomato and Sesame Dressing

In a food processor combine:

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes (dry pack, if possible)

1/3 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup water

2 tsp honey

1/3  cup fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 Tbs ground cumin

1/2 Tbs ground coriander

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Process on high speed until smooth, scrap down side and blend again.

With processor running, add on cup of olive oil and run for about 30 seconds.  Refrigerate any unused dressing.  Thin with additional water if dressing is thicker than desired.

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