Italian Lemon Chicken Salad

  • Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

4 -- 6 ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt divided
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper divided
5 cups country Italian style bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup red onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 -- English cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup drained large black olives, cut in half
2 -- 14 ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 ounces sharp provolone cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup roughly torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 sprigs of basil for garnish
2 slices of fresh lemon for garnish

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim the chicken breasts of any visible fat, place in a large bowl or pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper, pour over the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Spread the bread cubes out on two cookie sheets, toast in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To make the basil aioli, place the mayonnaise, fresh basil leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend to combine well and chop the basil finely. Remove to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, place the red onion, English cucumber, plum tomatoes, black olives, cannellini beans and provolone cheese.

To prepare the dressing, in a small saute pan heat the olive oil over medium high, add the garlic and saute for about 2-3 minutes until softened. Turn the heat down to medium low, whisk in the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Turn off heat and set aside.

Heat a large ridged grill pan over high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the chicken on the hot grill pan, turn the heat down to medium high and cook for about 7 minutes, turn over and continue to cook for an additional 8-9 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees. Remove to a cutting board and cover with foil.

Add the toasted bread cubes to the large bowl with the vegetables, cheese and beans, stir to combine. Reheat the dressing over high heat for about 1-2 minutes, pour over bread mixture, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the freshly torn basil leaves and toss again. Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts.

Slice the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/2 slices, arrange over the panzanella salad and spoon the basil aioli over the top of the chicken. Garnish the platter with basil sprigs and lemon slices. Serve while the chicken is still warm. (But it's good cold too!) Serves 4

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