Some Italian Engineering at Work
Welcome to this week’s installment of The Engineer’s Kitchen. With the thermal temperatures outside registering in at a beautiful 75 degrees, this was a perfect day for outdoor grilling. Lately we have been grilling up heavier and more hearty dishes, such as the wine marinated tri tip and the steaks served up with mushrooms and mustard sauces. So this week we decided to go a little heart healthier and serve up more of a light type of lunch. Add in the fact that today we have a full staff of four legged interns in the office (you can see them hard at work by clicking on our Facebook page link above), and the decision to go with chicken was practically made for us.
It would have been easy to just toss together some salad greens, place some grilled chicken on top and call it a lunch, but that would have made for one boring blog as well as lunch. With that being said, today’s menu was created with a little Italian flair, as I did my spin on a Panzanella salad dish.
The traditional Panzanella is basically a salad made of stale bread and tomatoes and tossed with olive oil and vinegar. Today, depending on where you are regionally, it can include more ingredients such as, olives, capers, mozzarella and cucumber, just to name a few. I decided to keep it light and simple, just not completely traditional. The prep work on this is a little on the long side for a salad, but well worth the time.
Panzanella Salad with Grilled Chicken:
- 2 large boneless chicken breast
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves
- Romaine lettuce
- 8-10 slices of sourdough baguette (1/2 inch thick)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic finely minced
- ½ teaspoon Dijon style mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
To begin, get outside and get the grill fired up. While it is heating, brush both sides of the bread slices with a light coating of olive oil and set aside. Slice the bell pepper lengthwise into quarters. Grill the peppers on their skin side until softened and lightly blistered and the bread on both sides until lightly toasted. Remove from grill and set aside.
Next, lightly oil the chicken breasts to keep them from sticking to the grill. Lightly salt and pepper and then get them on the heat. While the chicken is cooking, it’s time to prepare the dressing.
In a medium sized bowl, add the vinegar, garlic and mustard and mix together. Slowly add the olive oil as you continue to whisk until the dressing is emulsified, or combined, completely. In this recipe, the emulsifier would be the mustard to help bind the dressing while adding a nice flavor. The basic vinaigrette, using only vinegar and oil, will not stay together, which is the reason you would need to shake it before using.
Let The Assembly Begin
Remove the chicken from the grill when done and set aside to cool a bit. Start the salad by dicing the tomatoes, pepper, and grilled bread slices into roughly 1/2 inch piece and place in a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the basil and add to salad. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss lightly to coat.
To serve, I place a large romaine leaf on the plate and top with the salad. I then slice the chicken and fan on it on top. You may reserve a few teaspoons of vinaigrette to drizzle over the chicken if you like, but the natural taste of the grilled chicken plays nicely with the tanginess of the salad behind it without being overpowering.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog. As usual, feel free to leave a comment if you have a spin on this recipe.