Spring Chicken Panzanella Salad Will Chase Away Your Weeknight Late-Winter Blues

Spring calls for vibrant, bountiful bowls of greens. Enter this panzanella salad. Asparagus, snap peas, tender greens, and roasted chicken are tossed with crispy croutons in a light vinaigrette for a salad that’s light but infinitely satisfying.

The chicken:
Roasting the chicken with the bone in provides extra insurance that the chicken will stay tender and juicy as it cooks. The skin also protects most of the chicken from being in direct contact with the pan and developing that caramelized crusty layer on its outside—something that we’d welcome if we were planning to smother the chicken in creamy sauce, but is less desirable when we’re planning to shred it for a salad. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken, feel free to swap it in: Just make sure to use breast meat, since its texture is ideal for this type of light spring salad.

The croutons:
Panzanella purists might disagree, but in my opinion, the best croutons for panzanella salad are made with fresh bread that’s been tossed with a little olive oil and salt and toasted in the oven until crisp and lightly browned. Fresh bread always tastes better than stale, and the light browning that comes from the toasting only deepens the flavor. Make sure to tear (rather than cut) the bread: The extra crispness on those craggly torn edges is not to be missed.

The assembly:
While a traditional panzanella salad saturates the croutons with the dressing and the juice of fresh tomatoes, this springtime version swaps in a fresh mustardy vinaigrette—plus any chicken schmaltz and residual roasting juices—to accomplish the same goal. With panzanella, the goal is usually to thoroughly drench the croutons so they really absorb all that flavor, but if you’re not a fan of the whole crispy-gone-soggy thing, feel free to just toss them with the salad at the last minute.

While this salad is best eaten the day it’s assembled, most of the components can be prepped in advance. The croutons can be toasted and stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The chicken can also be roasted, shredded, and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can even feel free to mix the greens, herbs, peas, and asparagus together and keep them in a container in the refrigerator. Then you can mix up a salad whenever your panzanella craving hits.

Did you try making this? Let us know how it went in the comments!

Yields: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins


  • 1 lb.

    bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (1 large or 2 small)

  • 2 tsp.

    kosher salt, divided

  • 3/4 tsp.

    finely ground black pepper, divided

  • 1/4 c.

    plus 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 6 oz.

    white country-style bread, torn into 3/4" pieces

  • 1

    clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp.

    red wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp.

    Dijon mustard

  • 6 oz.

    mixed greens

  • 4 oz.

    asparagus, sliced on a diagonal into 2" pieces

  • 4 oz.

    snap peas, sliced in half on a diagonal

  • 1/4 c.

    fresh dill, plus more for serving

  • 1/4 c.

    fresh mint leaves, plus more for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

  2. Into a large, ovenproof skillet, pour 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange chicken in pan skin side down. Cook over medium heat, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and continue to cook until lightly browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken on its side and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes more.

  3. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°, 20 to 30 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool at least 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss bread, 2 tablespoons oil, and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread on a large metal baking sheet, reserving bowl.

  5. Bake croutons until golden brown and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

  6. Remove skin from cooled chicken and discard. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces and transfer to reserved bowl.

  7. In another large bowl whisk garlic, vinegar, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Whisking constantly, stream in neutral oil until emulsified.

  8. Transfer about one-third of dressing to bowl with chicken. Add croutons and toss to combine.

  9. Add greens, asparagus, peas, dill, and mint to remaining dressing and toss to coat. Arrange on a platter or divide among plates. Top with chicken, croutons, and more dill and mint, as desired.

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