So I had a little ciabatta lying around and I loathe waste. I have seen multiple renditions of this traditional Italian salad but thought I would turn it into a meal by adding a little pesto coated chicken. The result was sensational. Tender chicken thighs coated in Em’s Food pesto sat proudly on top of one of the yummiest salads I have made to date. Now that is a big call as I have made quite a few but every mouthful of this was pure delight. Italians just know how to get it right. Bellissimo (finger kiss)!
Prep time: 30 Minutes Cooking time: 35 Minutes $ Low Budget
2 tbs of olive oil
8 Chicken thigh fillets, excess fat trimmed
2 heaped tbs of pesto, see below for Em’s Food recipe
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
For the salad:
1/2 a loaf of day old ciabatta bread
A good lug of extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 punnet of heirloom tomatoes (any type will do just make sure they are lovely and ripe)
1 cucumber, halved, deseeded and sliced
1/2 a cup of kalamata olives, halved
1 cup of roasted capsicum, sliced into strips (I use them out of a jar, good shortcut)
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 bunch of basil, leaves removed and kept whole
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets
1 tbs of baby capers
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
2 tsp of caster sugar
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
Cut or tear the bread into bite sized chunks and place on a lined baking tray. Drizzle over olive oil and salt and pepper and toss the tray so that the bread is evenly coated. Place in the oven for approximately 10-15 minutes or until toasted and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a small bowl place the olive oil, red wine vinegar, anchovy fillets, sugar, a small pinch of salt and a good sprinkling of pepper and whisk until the anchovy fillets have dissolved. Add the sliced onion and capers and stir to coat the onion. Set aside to marinate.
Place the pesto, lemon juice and a little olive oil in a shallow baking dish. Use your hands to coat the chicken evenly in the pesto mixture. Make sure to wash your hands after handling the chicken. Heat a large frypan until nice and hot and fry the chicken in batches on both sides until golden. Place on a lined baking tray and pop them in the oven to continue cooking for 15 minutes.
Place the sliced tomatoes, cucumber, olives and capsicum in a large mixing bowl. Give the tomatoes a light squeeze to release some of those delicious, sweet juices. Add the ciabatta bread, 2/3 of the basil leaves and pour over half the dressing with onions. Toss the salad so that it is evenly coated and divide it between four serving plates. Spoon over the remaining dressing and top each plate with two pesto coated thigh fillets. Sprinkle over the remaining basil leaves , a light smattering of freshly grated parmesan and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.