Tuscan Grilled Chicken Salad with Peppers

Doesn’t this look gorgeous? This is a version of the Tuscan salad called Pollo Forte – a grilled chicken and pepper salad. All the bright colors not only make it very appealing on the plate but also signify that it is full of antioxidants and other things good for you. Plus it’s so easy to make!

The Pollo Forte recipe comes from FineCooking.com but as you probably have guessed, I modified it for our family’s tastes & what I had on hand. The traditional recipe is supposed to be spicy with both hot peppers & red pepper flakes; I tend to make it more mild for my kids. This is one of those recipes that is very flexible and different every time you make it. And, they’re all delicious!

Pollo Forte a la Suzanne

Serves 4-6 depending on appetites & accompaniments

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed, separated
  • 1 each red and yellow peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper or 2 cubanelle peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper & 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced – I omitted these
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced – I use my mandolin which I absolutely LOVE
  • 1 box grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes to taste – optional
  • Large handful of basil leaves, torn into small pieces

To make the chicken marinade, combine lemon juice, regular olive oil and 4 cloves of garlic, crushed, in a small bowl. Put chicken in a resealable bag & pour marinade over. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Meanwhile, combine peppers, onion, tomatoes & olives in a large bowl. Combine red wine vinegar, the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed. Pour over the vegetables and let sit while you grill the chicken.

Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt & pepper. Grill chicken 5-10 minutes per side, depending on how thick your chicken is. Thinly slice chicken across the grain and toss with the salad.  Add basil and salt & pepper and toss again. Serve immediately (if you have a hungry family that is planning a mutiny) or let sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.

Note: We (because hubby does the grilling in the family) don’t use extra virgin olive for marinating as we have found that is burns more easily than the regular olive oil

When I made this on Tuesday I served it with tomato & mozzarella paninis made on my new Cuisinart Griddler. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn out so well so I’m not sharing a recipe now. I will tell you a few tips I learned, in case you, too, are playing around with making paninis. And, as soon as I get it perfected, you will see it in a post!

  • Use a hearty bread, such as ciabatta, focaccia or a heavy, rustic country loaf – soft breads do not hold up well.
  • If you are putting basil or arugula on your panini, don’t use whole leaves; it’s hard to cut. Instead, roughly chop them or cut in a chiffonade.
  • Put the cheese on last, just before the top slice of bread.
  • Griddle just until the cheese starts to melt.

What recipes do you tone down (or up) for your family? Do you have any panini tips to share? Let me know if your try the Pollo Forte salad and what you think.


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