Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Purslane and Basil Pesto Coated Chicken

19 07 2009
This was actually unto itself. So good!

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella - This was actually unto itself. So good!

This meal was actually conceived last week before I went to the farmers market; or at least part of it.  I saw the tomato panzanella recipe in my fancier farmers market cookbook and just noted that if I could find everything I needed this would be a good one.  Shallots and tomatoes were pretty much the hard part.  So last week at the market we found one stand with heirloom tomatoes at it for $5.45/lb.  Now this is where my father would die when I tell him I spent $11 on tomatoes for a single meal! Actually they ended up becoming two but heirloom tomatoes are SO worth it! Besides the pretty colors they come in the taste is out of this tomato world! I love tomatoes but heirlooms just have so much flavor that varies its amazing. I can’t describe it really.  So onto the recipe…..

 So this recipe. Yes. Its actually really simple. Basically its take a loaf of bread (we used garlic rosemary), cube it, toss it with olive oil, salt, olives, and pepper and toast it for 20 minutes tossing once.  This creates the lovely croutons you see above.  Then the heirloom tomatoes are cored and sliced. Each plate is lined with tomato slices.  That makes the bed. 

The “meat” of the panzanella is the stuff on top of it.  We used the rest of the tomatoes diced up and some spinach (instead of the arugula it called for). This tomato mixture is tossed with the croutons and a simple dressing and served over the bed of tomatoes.  The dressing is minced shallots, mustard, olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed together.  Ironically I didn’t think I had any balsamic vinegar so I decided to use some pear infused vinegar I had and low and behold it was white balsamic vinegar infused with pear. PERFECT!

Man was this good.  The heirloom tomatoes are so tasty that this was pretty much our whole meal that we finished before the chicken even came out of the oven.  They have so much body and juice in them but are so flavorful! The pear vinegar added a tang of sweetness and the croutons sucked all the awesome juice and dressing up until they got a bit squishy and super yummy. 

So what about that chicken and purslane? Oh here it is…

Chicken and Purslane

Chicken and Purslane

So the idea was to use basil and purslane to make a pesto like mixture to cook the chicken in.  Now purslane was a new find at the market last week.  It is the leafy thing in  the picture above and you can see that the stalk is plump.  Turns out you eat that too and it all has sort of a lemony flavor to it.  They guy at the booth said they like to just put it into a salad more or less whole and chomp away.  I decided I would kind of do both and then basically failed on both accounts.  I ended up stripping most of the stalks of the leaves and mixing them with a handful of basil. This all got made into a pesto mixture with olive oil and pine nuts rounding it all out.  I cut the chicken into stripes and coated it with the pesto mixture. Sadly I touched the spoon to the raw chicken and then into the pesto so I couldn’t keep any for a non-cooked meal.  I coated it and baked it. Originally I had intended to serve and/or cook the chicken over the  purslane leaves but forgot to cook them that way and then basically didn’t plate it at all.  When it came out of the oven we had eaten so many tomatoes that we decided to taste the chicken and leave it for left overs.  So I throw a sprig of the purslane in for the photo and there you have it.  I also was going to cook the stalks with the chicken but forgot to. So we chopped those up and put them into a raw salad with our leftover spinach, tomatoes, and croutons from earlier in the night.

When we tasted the chicken it was good and moist. It had a nice light flavor where you may or may not be able to taste the purslane directly but it was a lovely light dish.  How it goes tomorrow and the next day will really tell the tale of how good this made up dish was.

PS – The 5 is for the tomatoes and the 3 is for the chicken :)




One response

20 07 2009
CN Heidelberg

Anything involving cubes of bread, I must try.

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