Salads

Arugula Feta Salad with Seared Oven-Baked Chicken Breast

This simple arugula feta salad is dressed with just olive oil and a splash of lemon juice to ensure the delicate greens take center stage.

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SKIP TO RECIPE

I first made this arugula feta salad when my husband and I were living in Walnut Creek, California. We were sharing a giant house in the suburbs of the suburbs and happily roasting in the hot inland temperatures. San Francisco would be 65°F (18°C), but the burbs would hit the upper 90s (35°C+) on a regular basis from June through September.

Ivan standing over a charcoal grill fanning smoke and flames with a hairdryer.
Ivan demonstrating his “patented” grill-lighting technique. Yes, that’s a hairdryer in his hand.

Ivan and I loved the hot, dry air and threw barbecues all summer long (our super informal wedding reception took the form of one of these events). My more cold-blooded friends from the Sunset, which is a notoriously cooler neighborhood in SF due to its proximity to the unforgiving Pacific winds, stayed indoors as long as they could manage before braving the piercing heat in our backyard. Ivan would be hunched over the grill flipping burgers and portobello mushrooms, taking orders and giving them while I schmoozed and kept the cooler replenished. Good times, but I digress.

Arugula feta salad tidbits

It’s rare that I meet someone who doesn’t like arugula. Arugula is one of those lighter greens that’s not as powerfully bitter as kale and can be interchangeable with spinach. It’s loaded with antioxidants, calcium, vitamin K, and other essential nutrients. It’s also excellent as a flatbread topper and is best raw but can be cooked.

Washed arugula in a salad spinner.
Arugula after it’s been spun dry in my favorite salad spinner.

SKIP TO RECIPE

I always have mini peppers and feta in the fridge because they are long-lasting and delicious. Mini peppers add a simple sweetness and crunch to any raw dish, such as my sweet and sour pepper salad, and the salty creaminess of feta brings an added boost of flavor. You may notice I use them both a lot in my recipes, especially in my book, Just Recipes: Pain-Free Instructions for 20 Balanced Meals.

Sliced sweet mini peppers

Arugula salad getting a squeeze of lemon juice

As for chicken breast, I learned how to properly prepare it when I was subscribed to one of those meal delivery kits (back before I did a lot of cooking and before I had many of my own recipes, of course). The one I used was Gobble—try it out and get six meals for $36. The instructions were to sear the breast in an oven-safe skillet and then finish off in the oven. What comes out is juicy and flavorful and not what one expects of white meat. I cook and prep all my stuff on my own now, but Gobble and Blue Apron got me started.

Seared chicken breasts cooking in a cast-iron skillet
Closeup of sliced chicken breast

Arugula for just about any diet

So, this simple recipe can be a quick lunch at home or thrown together for a light dinner. It’s certifiably paleo, being a holdover from my grain-free days. If you want to make it vegetarian, replace the chicken with a hearty meatless protein such as chickpeas, pinto beans, or even peanuts. Pair it with wild rice, shown below, if you want to get your whole grains on, or even toss it all with some pasta. My favorite gluten-free pasta is a corn-based concoction made by Barilla. I still buy it even now that I eat gluten because the pasta is that good!

I hope you enjoy getting your greens painlessly and deliciously with this salad!

Overhead shot of arugula feta salad with chicken and wild rice. Background is an orange, white, and yellow abstract painting.
Putting my abstract paintings to good use here.

SKIP TO RECIPE

Meal prep options

Seared oven-baked chicken breasts

Just a note

Enjoy this light salad on its own, or serve with wild rice for a complete meal.

Make this …

Vegetarian: Leave out the chicken and use roasted chickpeas instead.
Paleo: Leave out the feta cheese.
Gluten-free: It already is!
Non-dairy: Leave out the feta cheese.


Shopping list

Meat

1 lb. chicken breasts

Produce

arugula
mini sweet peppers
lemon

Dairy

butter
feta cheese

Oil and vinegar

olive oil

Spices

salt
pepper

Tools

kitchen knife
cutting board
oven-safe skillet
tongs
meat thermometer
salad spinner (optional but handy)
large salad bowl


Arugula Feta Salad with Seared Oven-Baked Chicken Breast

Serves: 4
Total time: 45 minutes

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients and preparation

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. chicken breasts: Sprinkle with salt and pepper
1 package arugula
1/4 cup feta: Crumble
6 mini sweet peppers: Remove seeds and slice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon: Juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Heat the skillet and then add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the chicken breasts and sear on each side for about 4 minutes, or until browned. Put the skillet in the oven and roast until a meat thermometer reads 165°F (about 10–20 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Toss the remaining ingredients in the salad bowl.
  3. Cut the chicken breast into strips and top the salad with it.

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