Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grilled Chicken Arugula and Tomato Salad

Crisp peppery arugula, moist grilled chicken and pop when you bite them tomatoes make this salad irresistable. The gentle, creamy yet salty bite of the ricotta salata leaves you wanting another mouthful. Lemon zest gives this healthy Italian salad a beautiful freshness.  Grilled Chicken with arugula, tomatoes and ricotta salata has it all... Crisp, fresh, flavorful and healthy.

This recipe shows you how to cook without strict measurements. You know your family's likes and dislikes better than anyone. Using that knowledge, you can tailor a meal to your family each and every one will love.

A handful is much like a cup. If you know your oldest likes salad, make it a big overflowing handful. Perhaps your little one likes tomatoes, then add an extra few. There's no wrong way to cook so don't be afraid of the measurements and getting them just right. Have fun with healthy food and just start cooking!

Today happens to be my Nonno Salvatore Vitale's birthday. He was born June 2, 1908. If he were alive he would be 103 today. When Salvatore Vitale was born, he arrived early. He was born only 1 1/2 kilos (about 3.3 lbs). Just after he was born, his parents put 2 hot water bottles along side a box and cotton balls over the bottles.   They then carefully placed him into the small box to keep his little body warm. It was a 1908 rural Italian baby incubator. They used that incubator for him his first few weeks of life. Had he been born in the cold winter months, he probably would not have survived. Lucky for him ( and me ) he was born on that warm in June at the turn of the century. My mother tells me that story every year around her fathers birthday. I now tell it to my kids too. This year my 6 year old realized for the first time that we all wouldn't be here had he not survived his premature birth. We had our dessert this evening with a candle on it to commemorate his birthday.

Nonno Vitale's father, my great grandfather Angelo Vitale came to New York in the early 1900's. He came  to work.  Construction began in March of 1900 on the New York subway system by Interborough Rapid Transit Company.  My great grandfather worked on the construction of the subway system.  That project ran until October of 1904 when the subway system was completed. I often look out the window into the darkness of the tunnels as I ride on the subway thinking my great grandfather was right here in one of these tunnels over 110 years ago.  Its truly a very proud feeling.

  • 4 handfuls of baby arugula, washed and dried
  • 1 handful of grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lb grilled chicken, or 4 slices
  • 1/3 cup perfect every time Italian salad dressing
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 handful of ricotta salata, grated with a cheese grater


Grill 1 lb of chicken. Let cool for 10 minutes then slice into thin strips. Zest 1 lemon. Grate ricotta salata. In a large bowl combine arugula, chicken strips, lemon zest and tomatoes. Add dressing and toss well. Divide into 4 plates and top with ricotta salata.

Servings: 4


Letting the chicken stand for 10 minutes before cutting it will allow the juices to stay inside the meat, thus giving you a tender piece of chicken.

When zesting a lemon, try to get the yellow of the peel, not the white. The white tends to be bitter and doesn't have the oils the peel has which is where the flavor is.

If you remember to, toss the ricotta salata in the freezer for 15 minutes. It will be easier to grate that way. Not essential, but helpful. I store my cheese in the freezer so it keeps longer.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather! Sounds like a miricle baby

  2. Hi Branny, I love that story. My mom is such an amazing oral historian. I'm so glad I have a place to document all these great stories. My mom tells the story of how she got her name. She can tell it twice in 1 day and cry both times. It's a great story. I should post it.

    I'm going to your site now, see u there!!

  3. Not only is gorgeous, I know that flavor combo will be amazing. I can almost taste it already. Can't wait to try!

    It's my first time here...thanks so much for the inspiration! I'll be back soon for sure.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner

  4. Hi Ma! thanks, hope you do try it. its was so yummy. I grilled the leftovers into a panini the next day and it was even better!

  5. Love hearing about your grandfather's birth and the little rural Italian incubator - touching!

  6. Hi Michelle, thank you for your comment. I had a reader send me a copy of my great grandfathers manifesto from the ship he came here on! They found it on Ellis Islands website. So nice

  7. Can't wait to try cooking awesome stuff like this one.

  8. This is the first year that we've planted arugula in our garden and I'm eager to make stuff with's not up yet...but this looks like something I'll be trying once it does come up!

  9. Great dish. I would like to try this. Thanks for sharing your recipe. regcure

  10. Wonderful.! It is my best recipe at all time. I can make it at home. To make grilled chicken, first heat on medium high heat then the chicken has to be kept on the grill for 7-8 minutes. It is necessary to take care in a very perfect way so that good results can be obtained by taking extra 7-8 minutes without any pink residue on either side. However, when the chicken reaches 165 ° can be a little problem. You can visit more recipe at grana padano.


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