Summery Kale Salad with Grilled Chicken, Toasted Bread, Mint + Strawberries

I'll be honest. I think the best part of many salads is the crunchy croutons, or grilled bread that comes along with it, making panzanella an obvious favorite of mine. 

We had a weird weekend of feeling out of place at our own home. Our glorified studio, as we call it has been home for the past three years, and suddenly had a major renovation. One of our main windows, that keeps the place bright and cheery all day long was covered by a new building next door. We went from this bright and gorgeous working and living space to what I've now, lovingly? Deemed the bat cave. I think we purposely spent most of the weekend outside, trying not to think about how different our home had become. But once Sunday rolled around, I felt like it was time to stop being angsty, and to go get inspired for a recipe, even if we didn't photograph it for Better Happier. 

With that in mind, plus the fresh jersey strawberries we got at the market, we were hyped on doing a kale salad that was sort of a panzanella, and sort of sweet and summery. We went a lot of different and convoluted directions at first while coming up with this one, but the final outcome was a mixture of all the right things. Grilled chicken, strawberries, mint and big chunks of toasted bread give this dish a lot of flavor. Plus, it's perfect for when you're out of ideas for how to make kale salad interesting. 

Summery Kale Salad with Grilled Chicken, Toasted Bread, Mint + Strawberries
1 bunch tuscan kale, stems removed, chopped
1 bunch escarole, roughly chopped
4 oz fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 loaf tuscan bread
1 small bunch mint leaves
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 shallot, finely diced
2 tbs champagne vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tbs additional
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tbs olive oil. Slice or tear tuscan bread into large, rough chunks. Fry bread in olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper until crispy and browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Rub 1 tbs olive oil over two chicken thighs and season generously with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat a grill over high heat. Grill thighs for 2 minutes each side over high heat. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, covered for an additional 2 minutes each side. Remove from grill and set aside to cool - when chicken has cooled, chop into small pieces. 

In a small, non reactive bowl combine shallots, champagne vinegar and garlic powder. Let stand 5 minutes. Generously season with salt and pepper and slowly whisk in olive oil until an emulsion has formed. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary - this will make approximately 1/3 cup dressing. 

In a large bowl, combine kale and escarole. Add dressing 1 tbs at a time until desired amount is used and toss thoroughly, making sure to massage and soften kale leaves.

To assemble, top kale and escarole mixture with strawberries, chicken, bread, and mint leaves. Toss gently to combine and serve.