Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chicken and beetroot salad with orange, fennel and feta

From the layer cake of my last post to a salad. Huge difference, right? But there needs to be some kind a balance to what we eat. So, salad it is, and my favorite type of salad at that. One that is a full meal, with chicken, to fill you up and make you happy.

This is the type of meal I like on these early spring days, when it’s getting warm and I don’t want heavy dishes but rather light and bright ones. Salads are my go-to dishes during this time of year.

Colorful beetroots—golden, white, chioggia—that make the salad even more appetizing, greens, because I like my salads with a bit of green, feta, because I’m a feta fiend, and chicken, my favorite kind of meat.

With fresh, liquoricy fennel and a citrus dressing with orange zest, lemon juice, honey and olive oil to tie everything together. With crunchy walnuts, because when we eat something it’s not only the flavor that counts but also the texture, and some juicy orange segments, because, yes, we may all have fallen head first into the seasonal strawberries, but there are some luscious and tasty oranges left for us to savor too. So grab them while you still can.

The play of flavors is quite interesting in this salad—refreshing, sweet, sharp, earthy—making it a salad ideal for my palate. I hope it suits yours too.

Chicken and beetroot salad with orange, fennel and feta

Feel free to substitute the types of beetroot I used for regular red beetroot. Just be aware of the fact that red beets stain any other ingredient that has the audacity to share the same plate with them, so if your salad takes on a pink hue, don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Adding it at the last minute and tossing the salad ever so slightly, will save the situation though.

Use a mandoline, if you have it, to achieve those paper-thin slices. A mandoline would also be ideal to cut very thin slices of the onion and fennel.

If you don’t like feta—you don’t like feta????—use any other creamy white cheese you like that is sharp, not sweet.

I used two boneless and skinless chicken breasts that I seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne, and cooked them in a frying pan with a little olive oil. You can use, however, any leftover chicken you may have, from roast chicken to grilled chicken, and it can be any part of the chicken as long as you cut it into bite-sized pieces.

This salad can be eaten either for lunch or dinner as it is quite filling yet light.

Yield: 2 main-course or 4 salad servings

2 large oranges
350 g raw beetroots (golden, white, chioggia), peeled and very thinly sliced
2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp orange juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp runny honey
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
Freshly ground white pepper
150 g mixed baby leaves
½ large fennel bulb, trimmed and very thinly sliced, fronds reserved
1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
300 g cooked chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
80-90 g feta, cubed
50 g walnuts, roughly chopped

Special equipment: mandoline (optional yet preferable), rasp grater

Grate the zest of one of the oranges and place it in a small bowl.

The way to cut the 2 oranges is by using a sharp knife. First, cut off the peel, then the white pith all around the fruit, exposing the flesh, and finally, cut free the flesh of the fruit from the membranes that are in between the wedges. Squeeze the juice out of the membranes and into a large bowl. They should be about 2 Tbsp. Add the thinly sliced beetroot to the bowl along with 1 Tbsp lemon juice and ¼ tsp salt and mix well. Let stand for 15 minutes so the beetroot softens a bit.

Make the dressing. In the small bowl that you added the grated orange zest, add the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, honey, the remaining 1 Tbsp lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and some white pepper, and using a wire whisk, blend well.

In a large bowl, mix gently with your hands the baby green leaves, fennel, red onion and the chicken. Add the oranges and the beetroot with its juices and mix gently with your hands. Scatter the feta and walnuts on top and finally pour over the dressing. Sprinkle with the reserved fennel fronds and again, using your hands, toss gently to combine all the ingredients.

Serve immediately with some fresh bread and a glass of dry white wine.


  1. This salad sounds and looks perfect. I normally mix beets with oranges and feta, but adding fennel and chicken sounds even more delicious. I'm surely going to give it a try :)

    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy if you try it :)

  2. This is really our type of summer salad. We live on this once the weather gets hot. Fresh. Beautiful. Flavorful. xo

  3. Mniam, mniam. Uwielbiam takie sałatki :)

  4. Not only is the mix of flavours delicious, it looks stunning too!