Photo by: Jonathan Lovekin

Saffron chicken and herb salad

Print Recipe

1 orange
50g honey
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
about 300ml water
1kg skinless chicken breast
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
15g picked coriander leaves
15g picked basil leaves, torn
15 picked mint leaves, torn
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and black pepper

This colourful salad is extraordinarily moist and refreshing. It was created by the chefs at Ottolenghi in Belgravia and is a big hit there. The trick — boiling a whole orange and blitzing it down to a paste — is very effective for many sauces, salsas and cakes. If you don’t like fennel, replace it with a combination of spring onion and rocket.

Serves 6


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Trim and discard 1cm off the top and tail of the orange and cut it into 12 wedges, keeping the skin on. Remove any pips.
Place the wedges in a small saucepan with the honey, saffron, vinegar and just enough water to cover the orange wedges. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about an hour. At the end you should be left with soft orange and about 3 tablespoons of thick syrup; add water during the cooking if the liquid gets very low. Use a food processor to blitz the orange and syrup into a smooth, runny paste; again, add a little water if needed.
Mix the chicken breast with half the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper, and place on a very hot, ridged griddle pan. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side to get clear char marks all over. Transfer to a roasting tin and place in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until just cooked.
Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, but still warm, tear it with your hands into rough and quite large pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl, pour over half the orange paste and stir well. (The other half you can keep in the fridge for a few days and would make a good addition for herb salsa to serve with oily fish such as mackerel or salmon.) Add the remaining ingredients to the salad, including the rest of the olive oil, and toss gently. Taste, add salt and pepper and, if needed, some more olive oil and lemon juice.

Perfect with

  1. Riesling vinegar

    An elegant alternative to cider vinegar: fruity, floral and refreshing

    Riesling vinegar


{based on 6 reviews}

Write Your Own Review

Only registered users can write reviews. Please, log in or register

  • Shop Question re prep time
    (22/03/2016) Do you think you could prep the chicken/paste the night before?

    REPLY: "Yes the paste can definitely be made the day before, even up to 2 days earlier. If you want to marinate the chicken the day before this is also fine. Once the chicken is cooked and marinated, place in the fridge (covered) and bring it out about 20 minutes before adding the final ingredients and serving."
  • Shop Fab recipe
    (08/05/2015) I have used this recipe a few times now, and its a cracker, everybody should try it
  • Shop Response
    (09/01/2015) Responding to "Incredibly Bitter" review of 27/05/14 - may have been as a result of using too much saffron
  • Shop Delicious for summer
    (15/07/2014) This is a great recipe for a summer dinner party. I've made it twice and used both breast and thigh meat. Dropped it off at a friend's house right after she gave birth, and she later demanded the recipe. It also makes great leftovers, I think the flavors meld better overnight. Don't overdo it on the fennel, that was my mistake the first time. Don;t know what happened with that other person's oranges, but I definitely thought it was the right amount of sweet, and herbaceous. I think I may have used Italian flat-leaf parsley and may have overdid that; it handles a lot of green well.
  • Shop Incredibly Bitter
    (26/05/2014) I'm not sure what I did wrong, but the orange paste was so bitter, the salad was almost inedible. I even used a Valencia orange for extra sweetness. If you don't like bitter, then remove the pith and keep the zest when simmering the orange.
  • Shop Colourful salad
    (08/05/2014) I liked it so much, that I've already made it three-times. It's refreshing, colourful and easy to make. The orange paste complements the chilli very well, though I used more chilli than the recommended amount.