One chicken, 4 quick meals

OK, so roasting a whole chicken might sound like a huge pain. But honestly, a roasted chicken is a busy cook's best friend because you get leftovers (and we've gathered a few tasty ideas to help you use them quickly). Plus, roasting a chicken is SIMPLE. All you have to do is unwrap it, tuck some aromatics inside, such as fresh herbs, garlic and onion, and pop it into the oven. Depending on the size, an hour and a half later, dinner is served.

Leftover cooked chicken is gold-think chicken for salads and sandwiches to bring to work and meat to add to quick weeknight dinners. You can even freeze the cooked chicken for future use. This past weekend I roasted a chicken using this recipe.

Simple Roast Chicken

1 small onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 5-pound chicken, giblets removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Equipment: kitchen string

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place onion, garlic, tarragon and thyme into the cavity of the chicken. Tie the legs together with kitchen string, mostly closing the cavity opening. Pull the wings so the tips overlap on top of the breast; tie in place, wrapping string around the wings and body. Rub the chicken with oil, salt and pepper. Set in a roasting pan, breast-side down.
3. Roast the chicken for 25 minutes. Turn breast-side up and continue roasting, basting occasionally with pan juices, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching bone, registers 175°F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes. Remove the string before carving.
Makes 8 servings.

Per 3-oz. serving (without skin): 180 calories; 9 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 64 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 21 g protein; 0 g fiber; 300 mg sodium; 217 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Selenium (30% daily value).

Since it's just my fiancé and me, we usually get two more dinners. My favorite ways to use those leftovers quickly:

  • BBQ Chicken Sandwich-The perfect lunch: just toss cooked chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce and top with crunchy carrots and romaine for lunch to go.
  • Chicken, Charred Tomato & Broccoli Salad-This simple but substantial main-course salad gets its goodness from smoky skillet-blackened tomatoes and a dressing prepared right in the pan-maximizing all the flavor from the tomatoes.
  • Chicken Tetrazzini-This creamy pasta dish will please adults and kids alike.
  • Asian Chicken Salad-When I kept getting napa cabbage from my CSA, I made this salad repeatedly. Fresh and crunchy, leftovers came to work with methe dressing in a separate container.

By Carolyn Malcoun

When associate editor Carolyn Malcoun came to Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute, she knew she didn't want to work in a restaurant but knew that she wanted to do something in the food industry. Luckily she discovered EatingWell, where she's able to combine her love of food and writing.

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