Crispy Italian Chicken and Bacon Salad with Tahini Pesto Dressing and Sourdough Croutons + Weekly Menu

First post of 2022, here we GO! I’m going with something totally unoriginal and totally worth the share. My blog crush is without a doubt, Half Baked Harvest. Firstly, her name is Tieghan and had it not been vetoed by my better half, we’d probably have a Shea and Teagan, not a Shea and Piper. That said, two –ea names might be more than people can handle (Shea, pronounced “Shay”, is commonly referred to as “SHE-UH”…seriously, people?). Also, Piper is totally a Piper – feisty, fun, and definitely a little naughty.

But Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest has food that is quite literally a work of art. She gives me major #goals when it comes to blogging. I just have to remind myself that blogging is her full-time job and she doesn’t have any kids, at least not yet.

That said, I am planning to be a bit more intentional with my blog in 2022. What does that mean, exactly? Little things. I love the new “jump to recipe” button that so many food blogs have. Obviously MY readers read all my random, well thought-out ramblings, but most blogs? Totes there for the recipe only.

(That is heavily dripping with sarcasm, if you’re new here.)

The truth is, I’m on a laptop at work a lot of the day, the pandemic has moved most everything to online meetings, and when I get home, I just want to NOT be on my computer. I continue to blog because I love it, but I know it could be more of me. It was at one point and for goodness sake, we’re 12 ½ years into this blogging thing. It’s surviving just fine, but could it THRIVE? And what does that mean? I should have this ironed out a bit more given that 2022 is not approaching, but HERE…but that’s okay. I’m getting there.

In the meantime, I was plowing through the recipes I have in queue (which is plentiful, thanks to quarantine and posting only sugar for the last week or two of 2021), wanting to select the PERFECT recipe to kick off 2022 with. Tieghan’s was the one that I knew topped the list.

Sure, she’s known for fairly involved recipes…but when it comes to salad, it’s going to take quite a showing for me to get all stupid over. This salad, though? Holy smokes. It has it all. Mark asked me which component I thought could go, and I said none – they all belong, they all enhance. That said, the most creative component of the masterpiece is the dressing. Dreamy!

Crispy Italian Chicken and Bacon Salad with Tahini Pesto Dressing and Sourdough Croutons

Crispy Italian Chicken and Bacon Salad with Tahini Pesto Dressing and Sourdough Croutons

Yield: 5 entree salads

This one has it all and is very filling and satisfying. Simplify and make a vegetarian salad, but don't skip out on the dressing. So very unique!

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (~3 slices) sourdough bread, cut/torn into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning, divided
  • 1 1/4 lb thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 12 oz mixed greens (~9 cups gently packed)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup (~4 oz) fresh mozzarella balls, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

Pesto Tahini Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon (~2-3 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp prepared basil pesto
  • 2 Tbsp tahini or sunflower butter
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine bread, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning on a baking sheet; toss well and arrange in a single layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, combine panko, Parmesan, and remaining 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning in a shallow dish; mix well.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Dredge chicken in the panko, firmly pressing the chicken into the panko mixture to help it adhere; place in the heated skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden and cooked through; remove to a cutting board. After a few moments, thinly slice.
  5. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar with a fitted lid; whisk or shake to thoroughly combine.
  6. Place mixed greens in a large bowl and drizzle with just over half the dressing; toss well. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, avocado, and bacon; toss well with a bit of additional dressing (reserve a drizzle to finish).
  7. Distribute salad to each of 5 plates and top with sliced chicken and sourdough croutons. Finish with a drizzle of remaining dressing; serve immediately.

Notes

Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1 prepared salad
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 658Total Fat: 44.4gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 953mgCarbohydrates: 32.2gFiber: 5.6gSugar: 4.2gProtein: 38.0g

Did you make this recipe?

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Starting the year off committed to more vegetables? Love it. This should help!

Weekly Menu: January 2nd – 6th

Be well,

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