Pesto-Rubbed Chicken with Panzanella

  • Serves

    serves 4


Pesto genovese adds herbal brightness to this grilled chicken served over a toasted bread salad, but any flavor pesto will work. This recipe first appeared in SAVEUR Issue #140 along with Laura Schenone's story Glorious Pesto.


  • 1 (3–4-lb.) chicken, cut into 6 pieces
  • 34 cup Genovese pesto
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (1-lb.) loaf country-style white bread, cut into 1 1/2″ slices
  • 12 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cups packed baby arugula
  • 12 cup oil-cured black olives
  • 14 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 12 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 small cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 14 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon


Step 1

Using your fingers, loosen skin from meat on chicken and spread ½ cup pesto in between skin and meat. Transfer chicken to a baking sheet and season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.

Step 2

Make the panzanella: Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, arrange an oven rack 4″ from broiler element and heat broiler to high.) Brush bread slices with oil and toss tomatoes and bell pepper with 2 tbsp. oil; season all with salt and pepper. Place bread and vegetables on grill and cook, turning as needed, until bread is toasted and tomatoes begin to burst, about 5 minutes. Remove bread and tomatoes, and continue cooking bell pepper until it is charred all over, about 7 minutes more. Let pepper cool, and then peel and remove seeds; thinly slice and transfer to a large bowl along with tomatoes, arugula, olives, parsley, onion, and cucumber. Cut bread slices into 1½″ cubes and add to salad.

Step 3

Heat grill to 425°. Place chicken skin side down on grill and cook, covered and turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°, about 25 minutes. Rub with remaining pesto and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°, about 5 minutes more. (Alternatively, heat an oven to 475°, and cook chicken, skin side up, for 25 minutes; rub with remaining pesto and cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°.) Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil; rest for 20 minutes.

Step 4

To serve, whisk together remaining oil, vinegar, roasted garlic, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl; pour over bread salad, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer panzanella to a large serving platter, and place chicken over top; pour any juices that accumulated on the plate over salad.

Pairing Note: Refreshing and bracingly dry, Punta Crena Pettirosso Frizzante 2009 ($19) is a delicious pink bubbly, perfect for this summer dish.

**Correction: August 1, 2011_ An earlier version of this recipe stated in step 4 that the incorrect amount of olive oil to use in the vinaigrette. The correct instruction is to whisk together the remaining olive oil (½ cup minus 2 tbsp.) with the vinegar, roasted garlic, lemon juice, and zest._

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