Cooking Corner Featured Recipe

Watermelon Panzanella Salad

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad and typically includes tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil.  In this summer twist, we substitute watermelon for the tomatoes, feta for the mozzarella and included bitter arugula to balance it all out!!  We included grilled chicken to make it more filling, but it is terrific without.  

This recipe was featured in our recent center stage salads class and the students were skeptical at first, especially about the arugula (I don't like that it is SO bitter!!).  In the end, the pairing won them over and it was the class favorite!  Give it a try yourself while watermelon is in peak season -- I bet it will win your family over, too!!!

Yield: approximately 4 servings (main entree)

4 Skinless, boneless chicken breast (4 oz. each)
Smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Cooking spray
4 Cups whole-grain crusty bread cut into 1 inch cubes
Grapeseed oil
½ Small red onion, sliced very thin
3 Cups chopped seedless watermelon (1 inch cubes)
2 Cups packed baby arugula
¼ Cup fresh chopped mint or basil leaves
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 ½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
½ Cup feta cheese, crumbled

Prepare a medium-high grill or pre-heat a grill pan. Season chicken evenly on both sides with paprika, salt and pepper. Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray. Grill, turning halfway through, until center is no longer pink and internal temperature reaches 165 degF on an instant read thermometer, about 15 minutes total (depending on size and thickness). When cool enough to handle, cut into ½ inch pieces.

Preheat oven to 350 degF. Mist a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray or cover with foil. Toss bread cubes with a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil and toss to coat. Place in even layer on the prepared sheet and bake until outside is crisp and light golden brown and inside is still chewy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine onion, watermelon, arugula, mint or basil, chicken and a few grinds of pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and honey. Add about half of the dressing and toss to combine. Add bread and the remaining dressing tossing to combine. Divide among plates and serve immediately sprinkled with the crumbled cheese.

(to print click on pdf on right)