In this copycat Panera Ancient Grain Arugula Salad; grilled chicken, cooked grains, fresh grapes and apples top arugula and is drizzled with a simple cider vinaigrette. Serves 4.

Why do food places retire their BEST menu items?

This is what I ask myself every time my favorite things are removed from a menu. Taco Bell did it years ago with their chili cheese burritos and most recently with their crispy potato soft tacos. Panera also removed THE BEST salad (in my opinion).. ancient grain arugula salad with chicken.

I would order that salad with a cup of autumn squash soup once a week while Malloree played middle school volleyball. It was my absolute go-to favorite! Panera perfection. Until they discontinued it. Never to be served again.

So what’s a girl to do but make it herself?

Ancient Grain Arugula Salad ingredients

To Make This Ancient Grain Arugula Salad You Will Need:

for the dressing:
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • kosher salt
  • apple cider vinegar
  • white balsamic vinegar
  • apple cider
  • dijon mustard
  • honey
for the salad:
  • lemon juice
  • garlic
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • paprika
  • olive oil
  • boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • arugula
  • coleslaw
  • cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice and lentils)
  • apples (like fuji or honeycrisp)
  • grapes
  • toasted pepitas

dressing ingredients measured into jar.

In a jar add the 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder and onion powder, a generous pinch of kosher and 1 tablespoon each apple cider vinegar and white balsamic. Whisk to combine.

Pro tip: adding the vinegar to the salt will help dissolve and flavor the dressing more efficiently.

whisked apple cider vinaigrette.

Then add 1/4 cup apple cider, 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon, 1 teaspoon honey and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk or secure the lid and shake until combined. You may have to stir it again before pouring over your salad. Set aside.

fresh herbs, garlic, paprika, lemon juice and olive oil in a glass bowl.

Moving on to the chicken. In a mixing bowl, measure and add 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary and thyme, 1 tablespoon minced sage, 1 tablespoon grated garlic (I use the chunky garlic that comes in the tube – so fast!), 1/2 a teaspoon of paprika, juice of 1 small lemon (about 2 tablespoons) and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

combined chicken marinade.

Mix well to combine.

toss chicken in marinade

Add 1 pound (give or take) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or thin-cut chicken breasts to the bowl.

coated chicken in herb marinade.

Toss well to coat.

Let marinade while your preheat your grill pan over medium heat.

marinated chicken thighs on grill pan

Spray the grill pan with olive oil spray and season the chicken with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grill the chicken 4 to 6 minutes a side or until the chicken is fully cooked. I use a instant read thermometer to check and make sure the internal temperature is at least 165°.

grilled chicken thighs.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining chicken thighs. Let rest for about 5 minutes before thinly slicing.

arugula, slaw, apples, grapes and grains in bowl.

Divide arugula, slaw, grains, apples and grapes almond deep bowls or plates. TruRoots makes little 8-1/2 ounce pouches of quick cooking grains, which is what I used (TruRoots olive oil and sea salt quinoa, brown rice and lentil). The pouches really come in handy for recipes like this. #notsponsored

Top with sliced grilled chicken and toasted pepitas. I toast the pepitas in a dry skillet over medium to medium-low heat until golden and fragrant.

apple cider vinaigrette drizzled over salad.

Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the dressing.

And serve.

Season with extra black pepper if desired.

Fresh, crisp and so flavorful and so much better than Panera. Sorry, Panera. I still love you tho. I ate this salad all weekend and let me just tell you, it’s even BETTER topped with crumbled goat cheese!

Click Here For More Panera Copycat recipes!

Enjoy! And if you give this Ancient Grain Arugula Salad recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

Ancient Grain Arugula Salad
Yield: 4

Ancient Grain Arugula Salad

In this copycat Panera Ancient Grain Arugula Salad, grilled chicken and a mixture of cooked grains top baby arugula, coleslaw mix, fresh grapes and apples. Drizzled with a simple cider vinaigrette.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Total Time 41 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE CIDER VINAIGRETTE:

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey

FOR THE SALAD:

  • juice from 1 small lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or thin-cut chicken breasts
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil spray
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix (green cabbage and carrots)
  • 1 apple, sliced into matchsticks (fuji or honeycrisp)
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • 8 ounces cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice and lentils)*
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas**
  • goat cheese, optional

Instructions

FOR THE CIDER VINAIGRETTE:

  1. In a jar add the garlic powder, onion powder, plus a generous pinch of kosher. Pour in the apple cider vinegar and white balsamic. Whisk to combine. Adding the vinegar to the salt will help dissolve and better flavor the dressing.
  2. Then add the apple cider, Dijon, honey and olive oil. Whisk or secure the lid and shake until combined. You may have to stir it again before pouring over your salad. Set aside.

FOR THE ANCIENT GRAIN SALAD:

  1. In a mixing bowl, measure and add in the minced fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, grated garlic (I use the chunky garlic that comes in the tube – so fast!), paprika, juice of a small lemon and olive oil.
  2. Add the chicken thighs (or thin-cut chicken breasts) to the bowl and toss well to coat. Let marinate while you preheat your grill pan over medium heat.
  3. Spray the grill pan with olive oil spray and season the chicken with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the chicken 4 to 6 minutes a side or until the chicken is fully cooked. I use a instant read thermometer to check and make sure the internal temperature is at least 165°.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining chicken thighs. Let rest for about 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
  5. Divide arugula, slaw, grains, apples and grapes almond deep bowls or plates. Top with sliced grilled chicken and toasted pepitas.
  6. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the dressing.

Notes

*TruRoots makes little 8-1/2 ounce pouches of quick cooking grains, which is what I used (TruRoots olive oil and sea salt quinoa, brown rice and lentil)

**I toast the pepitas in a dry skillet over medium to medium-low heat until golden and fragrant.