Chicken Tomato Salad with Croutons

3 pounds tomatoes, preferably heirloom

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

½ cup chopped basil leaves, sprigs for garnish

3 cups day-old bread cubes from baguette

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup homemade bread crumbs

1 tsp. minced thyme leaves

3 boneless chicken breast halves,

cut into 1-inch cubes

Canola or other light vegetable oil for frying

Cut tomatoes into one-inch cubes. In the bottom of a large salad bowl, add three teaspoons of olive oil, vinegar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Mix with a fork, then add tomatoes and chopped basil, mixing several times. Set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the bread cubes and fry, turning frequently, until nearly golden (about 3-4 minutes). Add garlic and continue to fry bread until golden, which is about another minute or two. Remove croutons and garlic and place on paper towels to drain.

In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, the remaining salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Pour onto a plate.

In a large frying pan, pour vegetable oil to cover by one inch. Heat the oil over medium high heat until hot.

While the oil is heating, roll the chicken in the seasoned breadcrumbs. When the oil is hot, fry the chicken until golden on all sides (about 3-4 minutes). Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat until all the chicken is cooked. Add the still hot chicken to the salad along with the croutons and the garlic and toss gently. Garnish with the basil leaves or sprigs. Serve immediately.


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