I think one of the reasons I’m so unhappy being a Chicagoan is because the second New Year’s Day is over I’m ready for it to be spring. Crazy right? Winter just started two weeks ago! Yesterday we returned our Christmas decorations to the basement, and today I found myself shopping for pink tulips at the grocery store and laying out yellow and white-striped placemats on our dining room table.
Maybe that yearning for spring is why I felt so drawn to Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a roast chicken salad tossed with green beans blanched just until they’re vibrant green and crunchy, alongside chopped flat leaf parsley and scallions. At the same time the “salad” features roast chicken, bacon, garlic, and big croutons you make by tossing pieces of crusty bread with olive oil and the chicken juices. The end product is comfort food fit for winter matched with vivid green spring vegetables—the best of both worlds.
This salad provided bread-tearing and green bean-snapping work for little boys’ bored hands (daycare is closed until Monday, after all) and looked like a great big bellwether of spring when I put it on a Tiffany blue platter and laid it on our dining room table.
I’ve adapted Oliver’s recipe for the salad dressing, just a bit, by including royal warrant holder Colman’s mustard. I also used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to simplify things. It’s good enough for Rick Bayless, after all. Certainly you could roast your own with lots of fresh thyme, lemon, and olive oil.
JAMIE OLIVER’S EPIC ROAST CHICKEN SALAD
1 small rotisserie chicken
Olive oil, for drizzling chicken
Sea salt and pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
14 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bulb of garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
½ loaf French bread
6 pieces of bacon
½ lb. green beans, trimmed
Fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 green onions
5-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Colman’s mustard
Apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the cooked chicken in a 13 x 9 pan with garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Place in oven for 10 minutes (just to heat up the chicken and get some of the chicken juices in with the garlic and tomatoes). Meanwhile, tear French bread into bite-sized pieces and snip green beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch green beans for 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
Remove heated chicken from the pan and set aside to cool slightly.
To the roasting garlic and tomatoes, add bite-sized pieces of bread. Mix with the chicken juices, olive oil, and garlic and add more thyme and salt and pepper, if desired. Place uncooked slices of bacon across this mixture and return to the oven until the bread is crisp and the bacon is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop parsley (about ¼ cup) and slice green onions. Shred the chicken and add it to the green beans on your serving platter. To this add the bread, bacon, cherry tomatoes, and garlic. Top with green onions and parsley.
To make the dressing, whisk olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, and a small drizzle of honey together. Oliver’s recipe uses such precise measurements as 5-6 tablespoons of olive oil and “a few good swigs of cider vinegar.” He’s right, though—keep tweaking it until you like the taste of it. We served this mustardy vinaigrette on the side of our salad. Adam, who is no friend of mustard, topped his with a balsamic glaze. I tiptoed into it and found it absolutely made the salad, which we served with big glasses of Twining's English breakfast iced tea. (Is there any other kind?)
Where to buy: This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's Great Britain, sold on Amazon.