It’s been above 100 degrees here in Austin the past week. Who wants to cook? Not me. However I do enjoy fresh and delicious food and I love to create something in the kitchen. So I went to Central Market and bought some heirloom tomatoes, a cucumber and a red onion. Central Market is my favorite grocery store. The produce is fresh and exotic, the meat is prime, the wine selection is excellent and everything always looks so good that I want to buy it all. I also get great ideas while shopping there. I like Whole Foods Market as well. Whole Foods originated in Austin in the 1970’s as a small store on Lamar Boulevard that flooded anytime it rained hard. They sold delicious coffee beans, and they were the place to get vitamins and special health tonics that you couldn’t buy anywhere else. Now of course they are not only a health source but one of the greatest gourmet markets in the world. Several more organic grocery stores and lots of Asian and Indian stores call Austin home. This city has become a foodie paradise and there is really nothing that you can’t get. I just bought some truffle butter. I can’t wait to use that. But for now back to Panzanella.
- 1/2 loaf of ciabatta, diced into bites
- 1 large tomato
- 1 cucumber
- 1/4 cup of red onion-diced
- 2 cups of romaine lettuce
- 10 black olives
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Heat the grill. I used my inside grill pan because I wasn’t going out into the heat….
Toss the ciabatta bread with olive oil, salt & pepper and throw on the grill. While that is toasting wash and dry the chicken breasts and dice into 1 inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper. The bread should have nice grill marks by now, turn it and take off when crispy.
Add the chicken to the grill for about 10 minutes.
Make the dressing …
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
- Mix the above and whisk. Set aside.
Dice the tomato, cucumber and romaine into bite sizes. Add the olives, capers and bread. Toss the chicken in and mix. Add the dressing then grate the cheese to top it.
Enjoy with a good bottle of wine. I recommend two; one is a French Chardonnay and the other is a nice red. The red was introduced to me by my inimitable and delightful friend Ed Ward who lives in Montpellier, France. He is an writer, and a radio personality and an expert on food and wine. He has a terrific blog called “City On A Hill” written from Montpellier. I took my first cooking class from him way back when and it was how to make jambalaya. Or was it etouffee? Who knows? All I know is that cooking is fun!