There’s a constant battle that has happened in my household for years, one that at times has threatened to drive the thickest of wedges between us. It’s over salad. And yes, okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but I’m not being dramatic when I tell you that Joe and I have argued about salad many, many times. You see, sometimes he gets on these workout and paleo diet kicks. I do not like said paleo diet kicks. I like cheese and often gluten and the occasional bowl of ice cream. When Joe gets on a kick though, he sometimes wants to go cold turkey. And the easiest thing that he can eat is a big, green salad.
Unlike paleo diet kicks, I DO like salad. I just don’t usually like it for dinner, night after night. Which is where the wedge comes in. But recently, I’ve discovered the secret — the salad peace treaty, if you will — to making all salads delectable and completely, utterly satisfying. Just roast everything you put in it. It’s kind of obvious, now that I think about, since I’ve been roasting various elements of salads for years. But this past weekend, I made us a salad with ingredients that wouldn’t make a lot of sense together raw, but when they were all roasted, tasted delicious.
The great news about The Roasted Everything Salad is that it’s completely customizable to the season, and whatever you have on hand. In the summer, I think this would taste awesome with roasted apricots or peaches and some roasted pork tenderloin. In the fall, go for the butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. You can literally roast any meat, fruit or vegetable and throw it in. Veggies and fruits especially get so concentrated, caramelized, and savory when roasted, so even a paltry vegetable like cauliflower is taken to a whole ‘nother level with roasting. You can vary the flavors by adding different herbs during the roasting process, and of course, switch out vinegars to make the dressing taste different. It’s kind of great!
Sunday I made us a salad with roasted chicken thighs, roasted broccoli, roasted apples, roasted lemon, roasted almonds, and roasted shallots. The only thing that’s not roasted in a roasted salad is of course, the greens. Though, if you used a really hearty green like curly kale, I kind of think that would taste good too. Here’s what I did for my roasted salad:
The Roasted Salad (with Broccoli, Apple, Shallots, Almonds, and Chicken)
1 head broccoli, florets removed, cut into large bite sized pieces, and rinsed
4 shallots, peeled and cut in half (you can also substitute a small yellow onion that you peel and cut into eighths)
2 apples, cored and cut into sixths/wedges (I used Pink Lady apples, which are sweet and tart)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can substitute white meat if you like)
1 tbsp dried herbes de Provence
optional: 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flake, if you want a little kick
1/4 cup roasted (unsalted) almonds, roughly chopped
4-6 cups of washed and dried mixed greens, or however much lettuce you would like for two salads
– extra virgin olive oil
– oil and vinegar, to taste
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, toss the broccoli, shallots, and apples with a few tablespoons of the olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper. You just want enough oil to lightly coat all the fruit and vegetables. Spread the fruit and veggies evenly out on the baking sheet.
In a separate baking dish, spread the chicken thighs out. Drizzle a couple more tablespoons of the olive oil over the chicken. Sprinkle the dried herbes de Provence over the meat, and season well with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze one of the halves over the chicken. Place the squeezed half plus the un-squeezed half into the baking dish.
Roast the two baking sheets/dishes together for 20-30 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown. You may need to check on the veggies half way through and move them around, so they brown evenly. Remove from the oven. Squeeze the roasted lemon half (the one you hadn’t squeezed yet) over the chicken for a final hit of citrusy juice.
To finish the salad, place some greens on each plate or in your serving bowl. Drizzle with as much oil and vinegar as you like — I like a sweeter vinegar with this, such as a balsamic or Merlot vinegar. Season the greens with salt and pepper. Place the roasted ingredients on top, then sprinkle some of the chopped almonds over the entire salad (in my pictures I forgot the almonds, but trust me, the nutty crunch is fantastic!). Serve warm and enjoy!
Images by Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese