Grillin' and chillin': Grilled panzanella salad with chicken.

Nothing tastes better than a salad in the heat of summer. It's easy to make salads the main-course, but the key is keeping them from turning unhealthful.

First, choose a lean protein such as chicken or lean steak instead of lots of cheese or bacon. Those who want to go meatless can opt for hard-cooked eggs or beans.

Next, pump up the vegetable content with add-ins such as radishes, green beans, tomatoes and zucchini.

Finally, keep it fresh and tasty by making your own dressing. Bottled dressings are often full of sugar instead of flavor. A good homemade dressing means you can use less.

GRILLED PANZANELLA SALAD WITH CHICKEN
Makes 4 servings

This recipe gives the Italian tomato-bread salad an update by grilling the bread and tomatoes and adding grilled chicken.

Dressing:
2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette 1 garlic clove, minced 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano salt and pepper 4 tablespoons olive oil
Salad:
vegetable oil for brushing 1/4 loaf country-style bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices 2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
To make dressing: Combine vinegar, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil.

To make salad: Prepare grill for medium heat. Brush grill grate with vegetable oil.
Grill bread slices until toasted. Transfer to a cutting board. Grill onion slices until browned in spots and tender. Transfer to cutting board. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on grill. Cook just until golden brown. Transfer to cutting board.

Drizzle chicken with 1 tablespoon dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, turning once, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into bite-size pieces.

Cut toasted bread into cubes. Cut onions into 1-inch pieces. Coarsely chop tomatoes. Place bread, onions and tomatoes in a large bowl with lettuce. Add half of remaining dressing. Toss to coat. Add chicken. Toss again.

Divide salad among plates. Drizzle with remaining dressing.

PER SERVING: 386 calories; 31 g protein; 27 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 17 g fat (3 g saturated); 66 mg cholesterol; 270 mg sodium.