Rush Hour

I'll admit it. Growing up, I thought that the appropriate place for bread at the dinner table was in a basket to be passed around. So when I started seeing the Italian tradition of using crusty bread in a salad, I was intrigued. There's something wonderful about using something that otherwise might very well find its way to the birds in a way that makes it seem like a gourmet ingredient.

Since discovering this ultimate method of using leftovers, I've tossed various types of bread cubes and croutons into everything from pasta salad to potato salad. However, my favorite rendition involves some of my favorite crunchy vegetables -- broccoli, asparagus and red pepper -- tossed with fresh baby spinach, shredded chicken and a day-old sun-dried tomato bread cut into cubes. If I've got some time on my hands, I'll mix together a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing or maybe something with feta cheese in it. Otherwise, I've grown rather fond of Kraft's Light Done Right Three Cheese Ranch -- which works quite well with this salad if you want to get dinner on the table before a soccer match!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken and Bread Salad

  • 8 oz. broccoli -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 oz. asparagus -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large red pepper -- diced
  • 12 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • 2 green onions -- sliced
  • 2 c. cubed coarse bread -- I like day-old sun-dried tomato bread
  • 1 grilled chicken breast -- shredded into bite-sized pieces
  • 2/3 c. salad dressing -- choose your favorite or make your own

Place the broccoli and asparagus into a steamer basket and steam for approximately 6 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking process and cool them.

Meanwhile, combine the red pepper, baby spinach, onions, bread and chicken breast in a large bowl. Add the drained vegetables and salad dressing and toss to mix. Serve immediately -- the longer you wait, the soggier the bread will become.

  • Yields: 2-3 main course servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes