Roast chicken and super salads: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for an alfresco feast (2024)

Dining outdoors can be a joy, as long as everything comes together just so. You can’t control the elements, so it’s useful to be all over the food logistics, not least to give yourself some flexibility with regard to timings and applications. So, today, I have for you: a tray of roast vegetables that are as good straight from the oven as they are a few hours later, spooned out of a container; a bean salad that can be prepped a day ahead and dressed as and when you need it; and a whole roast chicken, happy to be served just as it is, or cold in a sandwich.

Roast chicken with apricots and preserved lemon (pictured top)

Substitute the apricots for another dried fruit, if you fancy – if it’s firm, just make sure you rehydrate it in boiling water first. Prepare the chicken in advance up to the point when it’s ready to go in the oven, then chill until you’re ready to cook (if you do this, take it out of the fridge an hour beforehand).

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Rest 30 min
Serves 6

1 x 1.4kg chicken
Fine sea salt and black pepper
200g soft dried apricots
1 tsp brown sugar
1½ preserved lemon
(25g), flesh discarded, skin roughly chopped (15g net)
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
45ml olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 shallots
, peeled, trimmed and halved lengthways (280g)
10g fresh thyme sprigs

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9, and season the chicken inside and out with a teaspoon of salt, making sure you season under the skin over the legs and breasts, too.

Put the next seven ingredients in a small food processor with half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then blitz to a coarse paste. Put 90g of this paste in a small bowl and set aside, and rub the rest all over the chicken – apply a very thin layer on top of the skin and push the rest under the skin over the breasts and legs. Stuff two shallot halves and most of the thyme inside the cavity, then put the last sprig of thyme on top of the chicken breasts.

Put the remaining shallots in a large roasting pan, pop the chicken on top, then roast for 20 minutes, until the skin is golden and crisp. Take out of the oven and turn down the heat to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Using an oven cloth, carefully tilt the pan and collect one and a half to two tablespoons of chicken fat, then stir this into the reserved apricot paste.

Spread all the remaining paste over the chicken’s breasts, then return the pan to the oven and roast for 35 minutes more, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.

Remove from the oven, leave to rest for 30 minutes, then serve straight from the pan with the pan juices spooned on top.

Roast fennel and tomatoes with chickpeas and black olives

Roast chicken and super salads: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for an alfresco feast (1)

To my mind, this is an even more perfect summer side than a tomato salad. It can be made in the one tray, and pairs very well with crusty bread or pasta; in fact, it hits all the spots. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Prep 25 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 6

550g mixed tomatoes, large ones cut in half and small ones left whole
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained (reserve the liquid for today’s final recipe)
7 garlic cloves, peeled
2-3 fennel bulbs (400g), trimmed, hard stems discarded, bulbs cut in half
30ml balsamic vinegar, ideally a Spanish pedro ximénez-based one – I used Sotaroni from Brindisa
60ml olive oil
1½ tsp maple syrup
Fine sea salt and black pepper

1¼ tsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly ground
1 tsp chilli flakes

For the herb dressing
30g basil leaves
flat-leaf parsley leaves
75ml olive oil
15ml fresh lemon juice
(ie, from 1 lemon)
30g pitted black olives, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Put the tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic and fennel in a large roasting tray, drizzle over the vinegar, oil and maple syrup, then season with a teaspoon and a quarter of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix gently to coat, then arrange the tomatoes and fennel cut side up in the tray. Roast for 30 minutes, until soft and nicely charred in places.

Just before serving, make the dressing. Finely chop the herbs and put them in a medium bowl with the oil, lemon juice, olives, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. In a small bowl, mix the fennel seeds and chilli flakes, then stir half of them into the dressing. Spoon half the dressing over the cooked vegetables, sprinkle the rest of the fennel and chilli mixture on top, then serve with the remaining dressing in a bowl on the side.

Green bean salad with aquafaba aïoli

Roast chicken and super salads: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for an alfresco feast (2)

The mixture of cooked and raw beans here makes this dish fall somewhere between a salad and a slaw – both of which are, of course, great additions to any summer lunch spread. I made the aïoli with leftover aquafaba from the fennel bake above, but if you don’t have any to hand, use shop-bought aquafaba or an egg yolk instead.

Prep 20 min
Cook 10 min
Serves 4-6

For the aïoli
4 tsp aquafaba
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
, peeled and crushed
Fine sea salt and black pepper
100ml olive oil

For the salad
200g fine green beans, trimmed
180g runner beans, trimmed, cut into three lengthways, then cut into 2mm-thin julienne strips
60ml olive oil
50g skin-on almonds

1½ tsp coriander seeds
150g sugar snap peas, cut lengthways into 3mm-thin strips
150g mangetout, cut lengthways into 3mm-thin strips
45g spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthways
10g tarragon, leaves picked
1 lemon, skin peeled into 4 wide strips, then juiced, to get 2 tbsp

First make the aïoli. Put the aquafaba, vinegar, mustard, garlic, an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper in a small food processor and blitz for 10 seconds. With the motor still running, drizzle in the oil in a slow, steady stream until the mix emulsifies and takes on a mayonnaise-like consistency. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of well-salted water to a boil, drop in the fine beans and runner beans, and cook for two minutes, until the runner beans are tender and the fine beans still have a slight bite. Drain, refresh in plenty of cold or iced water until cool, then drain again and set aside.

Meanwhile, put the oil and almonds in a small pan and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for three to five minutes, until the nuts are golden all over. Remove with a slotted spoon, leave to cool a little, then roughly chop. Put the coriander seeds in the hot oil left in the pan, toast for 30 seconds, then take off the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all the salad ingredients, including the beans, with a quarter-teaspoon of salt. To serve, layer the salad and aïoli on a platter, marbling the aïoli through the vegetables, so some of them are well coated and some vivid green.

Roast chicken and super salads: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for an alfresco feast (2024)


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