This roast chicken salad recipe is one of those recipes I turn to over and over again in my kitchen. I make the roast chicken using my mom’s signature recipe, and pair it with a fresh arugula salad dressed in a French vinaigrette and homemade croutons that make this meal absolutely sensational!
Roast Chicken Recipe
One of the reasons that I enjoy cooking so much is that I find it to be a very connecting experience. With baking, the experience is very personal – kneading the dough, sifting the flour, frosting the cake – the finished product is often a result of my own craftsmanship, meticulousness, and creative attributes.
With cooking, it doesn’t suffice to merely have talent in the kitchen and a good recipe. You have to be connected to the earth, the agriculture, the farm; you need to know what’s seasonal and fresh, which fruit and vegetables are ripe for using, or which piece of meat is tender enough to be enjoyably consumed.
Once you have this knowledge, cooking can be very forgiving. A pinch of this or that, or lack thereof, is all up to your taste. The quality and freshness of your ingredients will shine through and steal the spotlight.
My mother taught me this over the years as I watched her cook. When I asked her how she made her much loved roast chicken, she gave me a general idea of what she did, and then I’d started asking her all my specific questions.
How much salt did she add? A teaspoon? Two teaspoons?
As a baker who is accustomed to exact measurements, I couldn’t help wondering. She’d shrug her shoulders and say, “It’s all to taste…just eye it, honey.”
It wasn’t until I started cooking myself that I finally understood what she meant.
Now, I cook knowing that how delicious my roast chicken turns out is determined more by which herbs I use to season it rather than whether or not an extra granule or two of salt makes its way into the dish.
I make my roast chicken the way my mother has for years. Her chicken has made her famous among family and friends, and it’s always the first to go at family gatherings.
A combination of fresh herbs, including rosemary, sage, and thyme and chopped up finely and mixed with minced garlic to create the seasoning for the chicken. The chicken is brushed with olive oil before it’s covered in this herb-garlic mixture, stuffed with some lemon, and roasted to perfection.
The chicken ends up with a crispy skin, but the meat underneath is mouthwateringly juicy and moist. The thyme, rosemary, and sage contribute an earthy flavor that’s balanced out with the heat of the garlic and slight acidity from the lemon oils that are released as it cooks.
Green salad with roasted chicken
For this simple roast chicken salad recipe, I simply cut up the roast chicken and place it on a bed of dressed up arugula, as inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe.
I love arugula for its peppery flavor, but you could definitely swap in mixed greens or shredded kale, which I also love to do. I would avoid something more bland like romaine or iceberg.
The greens are dressed in a combination of olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, and lemon juice. I use a similar vinaigrette for my French potato salad recipe.
The salad’s tossed in this dressing with some dried currants and then used as a bed for the cut up roast chicken. Instead of dried currants, you could also use dried cranberries, or fresh fruit like diced green apples, sliced strawberries, and/or blueberries.
Bread Croutons that steal the show
Perhaps the best part of this recipe are the bread croutons. I know I’m a bread lover, but I’m not exaggerating when I tell you these croutons are simply irresistible and steal the show with this roast chicken salad recipe.
Crusty French bread is placed underneath the chicken (a bit like a platform for the chicken to rest on) so that as the chicken cooks, its juices drip down and become absorbed into the bread.
The bread becomes soft on one side from the juices and then toasted and crunchy on the other side from the heat of the pan. This combination makes for spectacularly flavored croutons for the salad.
Overall, this roast chicken salad recipe is a simple, yet entirely satisfying meal that shows just how impressive using basic, quality ingredients can be!
for the roast chicken
- 3-4 lb. organic whole chicken
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 sprigs of sage
- 2 cloves large of garlic, minced
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- twine, optional
for the salad
- French bread, cut into small slices
- 6 cups of baby arugula
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp dried currants
- salt and pepper to taste
- Begin by creating the chicken. Rinse and remove any giblets from the inside of the chicken. Thoroughly dry the chicken by patting it dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place your bread slices in a baking pan that's only slightly bigger than the chicken.
- Brush olive oil all over the the roast chicken (breast-side up) with enough olive oil to coat all of the chicken. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt inside the cavity of the chicken. Then season all over the outside of the chicken, both top and bottom, with the sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Gather 3 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and 1 sprig of sage and place them inside the cavity. Place the lemon inside too. Use some twine to tie the chicken's thighs together, if necessary, to keep everything inside the cavity. Chop up the remaining herbs into fine pieces and mixed them with the minced garlic; pat them down all over the top of the roast chicken. Place the chicken (breast-side up) directly onto the bread slices.
- Bake for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer reads 165°F and the chicken's juices run clear. For the last minute, broil the chicken at 500°F just to give it some really nice color. Then remove the roast chicken from the oven and temporarily cover it with foil. Let it rest in the pan while you create the salad.
- To create the salad, whisk the wine wine vinegar and lemon juice with the dijon mustard, until the mustard is completely blended in. Then add the olive oil and vigorously whisk until combined.
- Stir in the minced garlic and dried currants. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the arugula and toss together in a large bowl.
- To assemble, place the salad on your serving platter, or in individual portions on plates. Cut up the roast chicken into either large pieces or bite-size pieces, your preference. Then cut up the bread slices underneath (if they're large slices. If they're baguette size, then you can leave as is). Add the bread and chicken to your salad.