Some days dinner should be simple, like a sandwich or something. That is what I was hoping for last night but I had some fresh local zucchini beauties I needed to use up and there was a pack of chicken thighs already defrosted in the fridge. Sigh… I was not in the mood… Mood or not, I really had to find my mojo and get cooking. What to do, what to do??? Too lazy to browse through my collection of recipes saved everywhere: online, on paper, bookmarked, in magazines, in e-mails… Too tired to want to try something totally new… I also wanted to cook something that wouldn’t radically bust the calorie count; I didn’t want to ruin my “9km walking dowtown” day. Soooo, I opted for familiar with what I had on hand: onions, zucchinis, garlic, tomatoes, sweet peppers and parmesan. A never fail pairing with chicken. The combo worked and by the time I had my ingredients sorted out, I found my second wind. It smelled divine in the house and we couldn’t wait to dig in. I served myself just a little wee bit of pasta but the King, who has been blessed with a “piss me off” good metabolism, piled it on his plate with reckless abandon (his plate in the picture). I drooled with envy over his copious serving and cursed the gods of curvy bodies… He gobbled it up with a guilt-free conscience, adding a few slices of über fresh sourdough bread from Bread and Sons, generously slathered with a thick coating of Riviera Salted Butter (my new heart throb). Lucky man… Not fair… He had seconds… I went to water my plants lol!
Ok, enough with the pity party!! I could have ended up with a hard boiled egg and a sliced tomato… Instead, I got to enjoy a respectable serving of this really yummy and healthy meal! I hope this recipe inspires you: the instructions may seem long but I added a lot of details to help those who are really new in the kitchen. Don’t be intimidated, this meal is super easy to make…
“Somewhere in the Mediterranean” Chicken Dinner
Because nothing evokes the Med life better than tomatoes, zucchinis and garlic simmering together…
What you need:
- 5 good size zucchinis, diced in big chunks
- 1 generous tbsp olive oil
- 6-8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp cornstarch or flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red, yellow or orange sweet pepper, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2tsp oregano
- 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
- 1 big tomato, diced
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- pasta or rice, enough for 4 servings (optiona)
- grated parmesan
How to make it:
I roasted the zucchinis first while I prepped the rest. It does cut some of the cooking time a bit plus add just that umph of flavour. I was able to cook everything else while the zucchinis were taking on a nice roasted flavour. I like to crank my oven up to 450F on convect roast to get a good char going on… For more ideas on how to maximize the use of your oven, I invite you to read an older post dedicated to this subject. You can skip this step and add the zucchinis with the onions and peppers at step 6.
- Preheat oven to 450F and set grill rack to the upper middle position
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet. Toss the zucchinis with olive oil and pepper. Spread even,y on baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes. The zucchinis will be ready when they start to have a nice brown outer edge
- Mix the cornstarch with 1 tsp salt and some coarse ground pepper. Add to the chicken and coat well, set aside
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in large and deep skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat; add the chicken, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 8 minutes on each side. You want to achieve a nice golden crust and cook the inside without over cooking.
- Meanwhile, chop the onions, sweet peppers, garlic and tomatoes. Gather the remaining ingredients. Set your water to boil if you are cooking pasta or get started on the rice
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pan and set aside. Add the onions and peppers to the pan. You shouldn’t need any additional oil. Sauté until the vegetables start to caramelize then add the garlic and oregano. Toss a round a little until the garlic starts to soften without browning. If using, add the white wine and cook down until nearly all evaporated, 3-5 minutes. If you are not using wine, skip to the next step
- Check on the zucchinis… If they have a nice brown colour and have softened, they are ready to pull out of the oven
- To the skillet, once the wine has reduced, add the fresh & canned tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir to mix well.
- Add the zucchinis, stir and taste for seasoning. I added 1tsp of salt and some black pepper
- Nestle the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables without burying completely in the sauce. Bring to a gently bubbling simmer, cover and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes
- While the chicken is simmering, cook the pasta or rice (optional)
Serve with a generous shower of freshly grated Parmesan although asagio, and romano would be honourable substitutes and fresh mozza, crumbled feta or goat cheese would easily enhance as well. Everyone is happy 🙂
Side note: if in Ottawa, you must visit Bread and Sons on Bank Street, it is worth discovering! I am not receiving compensation from these businesses, just sharing my appreciation for what they offer.