2017 may be my Year of the Roasting Pan Meal.
I have roasted vegetables in the oven, and I have roasted meat in the oven, but together? In the same pan? Why does this idea seem so revolutionary? And the possibilities and permutations are endless! I’m already thinking about shrimp. I wonder if this same method would work for fish filets? Aaaaah! stay tuned.
All of the pieces for this meal are the right size to be roasted to perfection in about 15 minutes. The caramelized onions, roasted broccolini, and olives are so delicious right out of the oven. I kept sneaking bites as I was taking pictures.
I had to stop myself so the pictures would represent the yield of the actual recipe!
For this batch, I prepped it on the spot, mixing in the oil and spices just before roasting, but you could prep the night before or in the morning, and come home from work just an inch from a healthy, colorful, complete meal.
The recipe that I used as inspiration calls for chicken tenders – a smaller section of boneless meat found under the breast. Chicken tenders are a great way to cut down on cooking time, and some people find them very convenient. I had a spell in law school where I always had chicken tenders in my freezer, and just last week I saw that my Costco sells them in bulk. But not every store will have always have tenders in stock, and this recipe worked just fine using chicken breasts, sliced into large, tender-sized chunks – about 1″ thick.
Depending on the size breast you are using, each should yield 3 to 5 tender-sized pieces. In the photos throughout this post, I sliced two medium-to-large chicken breasts.
I had been starting to feel like all of my dishes are seasoned the same way, and that’s probably because I had gotten into a groove and instinctively reach for the same spices. Cumin. Oregano. Paprika. Garlic. All delicious, but everyone needs a periodic change-up. You likely don’t have za’atar on your spice rack by accident or chance; it is not very common in the mainstream American kitchen. Za’atar is middle eastern blend of spices, and that blend may vary based on brand or where you purchase it, just like any grill rub. Consistent components of note in za’atar are sumac and sesame seeds.
If you are hesitant to purchase a whole bottle, you can try making it yourself at home. Generally, that’s what I do when a spice mix calls for common ingredients – good examples are cajun spices, taco meat seasoning, or this Homemade Onion Herb Mix. I usually can use base ingredients for other mixes or on their own. But I have never needed sumac, and I have upwards of 80 (!) spices. So I thought there was a pretty good chance I would not need sumac-only in the near future. Purchasing sumac looked to be about the same price as purchasing a bottle of za’atar, so I just grabbed a bottle.
You can see the sesame seeds in the za’atar spice mix!
The kalamata olives in this dish added a great briny taste. Have you tried roasted orange slices? Everything is better roasted! The orange zest and juice lent a bright taste as well. This is a great meal to double, and take the extra to work for lunch. All of your components in one container.
I will say that the broccolini – which is more delicate than broccoli and cooks faster – tasted best fresh out of the oven, rather than reheated, in my opinion. But everyone who saw or tasted this dish reheated disagreed and said that broccolini is always delicious. You could also use regular broccoli, cutting the stem into coins, and the florets into 1″ pieces.
I served this Za’atar Chicken, Broccolini, Olives, Red Onion & Oranges on a bed of quinoa that I seasoned with some za’atar as it cooked. The quinoa cooked in the same time that it took the main dish to roast. Know what we call that?
- 1 pound broccolini
- 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced
- .5 cup Kalamata olives (a handful, depending on your tastes)
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 T dry white wine (optional)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 navel orange
- 2 chicken breasts, or 8 to 10 chicken tenders
- 1 T za’atar
- Prepared quinoa (add a Tablespoon of za'atar to the pot before you cook the quinoa, if you would like)
- Place one oven rack in the bottom ⅓ of the oven, and another rack in the top ⅓.
- Heat the oven to 450.
- Prepare a large sheet pan or the bottom of a broiler pan. Mine is new and seems to be non-stick, but if yours is not, just spray it quickly with cooking spray.
- Trim the broccolini, using a vegetable peeler on the stalk if necessary (broccolini can range from very delicate, to very thick and hearty, just like asparagus), and cut into 2" pieces. Place the broccolini in a large bowl. Add the red onion and olives to the bowl.
- Distribute the oil and wine around the bowl, and lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Grate 1 - 2 teaspoons of zest from the orange into the bowl.
- Slice off the ends of the orange and cut the orange in half. Discard the ends you sliced off.
- Squeeze juice from one half of it into the bowl. Cut the other half of the orange into .25" slices, and add them to the bowl.
- Toss all of the ingredients in the bowl, distributing the oil, orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper.
- Spread the mixture in an even single layer on a large sheet pan or base/bottom of a roasting pan.
- Slice the chicken breasts and place them in the now-empty bowl (or add the chicken tenders to the bowl). Toss the chicken with the za'atar and a bit of kosher salt.
- Place the chicken on top of the vegetables on the sheet pan, ensuring each piece is laying flat.
- Roast the pan on the rack in the bottom ⅓ of the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and using heat-proof tongs, flip over each piece of chicken. Roast the pan on the top rack for the remaining 5 minutes. Be sure the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink on the inside - this shouldn't be a problem if your chicken is 1" thick.