3 cups 3/4-inch cubes Italian bread (preferably whole-wheat)
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices lean bacon, chopped
3 pounds chicken breasts, poached, skin and bones discarded, and the meat cut into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 scallions including the green part, minced
1/2 cup Quick Basil Mayonnaise, recipe follows
Salt and pepper
Basil sprigs for garnish, if desiredPreheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl drizzle the bread cubes with the oil, tossing them to coat evenly, and season them with salt. Spread the bread cubes in a jelly-roll pan, toast them in the middle of the preheated oven oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are golden, and let them cool. In a skillet cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and transfer it with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. In a large bowl combine well the chicken, the tomatoes, the scallions, 2/3 of the bacon, the mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste, divide the salad among 6 plates, and arrange the croutons around it. Garnish each serving with some of the remaining bacon and a basil sprig.Quick Basil Mayonnaise:
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepperIn a food processor or blender blend together the basil, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Season the mayonnaise with salt and pepper.
Yield: about 1 1/4 cups