Recipe: Lemon-Rosemary Roast Chicken with Winter Green Stems

updated May 1, 2019
Roasted Lemon-Rosemary Chicken and Winter Green Stems
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(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

When Hali first mentioned that she saves tough winter greens stems over the course of a week for roasting, I was a bit skeptical. That is, until I tried it myself and realized it was a brilliant idea — and a delicious one, too

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

When it’s the winter season and the variety of fresh vegetables dwindles drastically, winter greens become a lifesaver. But what do you do with all those tough stems that are leftover from the recipes that only call for leaves? Instead of throwing them in the compost bin, save them up to use the next time you roast chicken.

The kind of stem you use here is really up to you — but sturdier varieties, like those from kale and collard greens, are some of my favorite. This recipe is super-flexible: Throw the stems on a baking sheet or roasting pan, then top with bone-in chicken pieces that have been tossed with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and lemon zest.

As much as I love roasting whole chickens, on a weeknight, bone-in chicken pieces cook much more quickly and evenly. Roasting the chicken over high heat means dinner can be ready in just a shade over 30 minutes — not to mention it’s a complete meal prepared all at once. You’ll even have some smoky roasted lemon wedges to squeeze over everything at the table.

This may seem like a lot of chicken, but leftover chicken never goes to waste. I love shredding the meat and turning it into chicken salad wraps for lunch the next day. Just think of it as cooking two meals at once.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

Roasted Lemon-Rosemary Chicken and Winter Green Stems

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • Stems from 2 to 3 bunches kale, collard greens, or Swiss chard

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 3 sprigs

    plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

  • 3 pounds

    bone-in chicken pieces

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

  2. Place the stems in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Spread into an even layer.

  3. Finely zest the lemon into a large bowl. Cut the lemon into 8 wedges and set aside. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, and chopped rosemary to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the chicken and toss with your hands to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and toss to coat again. Arrange the chicken in an even layer over the stems. Arrange the reserved lemon wedges in between the chicken pieces and place the rosemary sprigs over the chicken.

  4. Roast until the chicken is golden-brown, cooked through, and the thickest piece registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 to 45 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges for squeezing over the chicken and greens stems.