Improvised: Mediterranean Chicken

Improvised Mediterranean Chicken_1As I said in my last post, I pin like an absolute madwoman. I have a lot of boards. I pin so many recipes that I recently had to break up my recipes into multiple boards so I could find what I wanted more easily… I now have at least 13 food-related boards on my Pinterest. Many days I have an idea of an ingredient or a genre or a category or a something singular that I want to work off of for my dinner. I pop over to Pinterest and scan my boards until the spirit moves me and then make a plan that way. I’m not the best planner-ahead-er (?). If you don’t already know that about me, you’ll soon discover this to be true. Anyway, long story short: Pinterest saves the day–or the dinner–many nights.

THIS night was one of those, except it also falls into the category of “best laid plans” or whatever that expression is. I knew I wanted a healthy chicken meal that included lots of veggies and color (color = the secret ingredient that somehow frequently tips the scales in favor of the toddler at our table consuming something that isn’t just meat and/or cheese (or cucumbers – she eats SO MANY cucumbers, which is wonderful, but still… let’s branch out, kid!)). So I found this recipe and scanned it quickly. “One pan” I read. And that’s about where I stopped reading. Who doesn’t love the ease of a one-pot, or in this case, one-pan meal? The end, I say. Winner, I say!

I made a quick shopping list for the ingredients I knew I didn’t already have at home (I lied. I guess I actually read a bit more – another reason this one was a winner was because I already had a bunch of stuff in the fridge or pantry… more on that in a bit), and snuck over to the grocery store on my lunch break to pick them up.

When I got home, I scanned the recipe again, and again, stopped at “one-pan.” I laid everything out on the counter and got to work. I knew I didn’t have time to let the chicken marinade (but I did read far enough into the recipe that I was sure it would still be delicious without that extra umph), so I decided to let the flavors come together in a faux-marinade as I prepped. Instead of just dumping it all into the pan, I’d add ingredient to ingredient in a big bowl, and then mix it all around before finally dumping it all into the pan. So that’s what I did. And only about 3 ingredients in did I realize I was supposed to pre-roast the tomatoes and onions, and pre-brown the chicken. Oops! Too late. So I rolled with the twist and the result was delish! I give you now, my own variation: Improvised Mediterranean Chicken packed with all kinds of goodies…

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
(from the original recipe’s Marinade list)
* 1 14oz can marinated artichoke hearts (already had these in the pantry)
* 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (ALWAYS have a whole lotta garlic on hand)
* 1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken (I used about 1lb thighs, and .5lb breast)

(from the original recipe’s Bake list)
* 2T olive oil, divided (had it)
* 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (I thought I had half a large red onion at home, turned out it was about a quarter… didn’t end up mattering at all, though more would certainly be yummy)* 1 pint cherry tomatoes, left whole
* 1 14oz can white beans (I used white cannellini beans), drained and rinsed (had these)
* 1/4C roughly chopped Kalamata olives (had these)
* 1 8oz tub marinated mini-mozzarella balls (I used about 8oz of feta because I had it in the fridge already)
* salt + pepper

(from the original recipe’s Garnish list)
* 1/4C roughly chopped parsley
* about 2T chopped basil leaves

(my own addition)
* 1 lemon, cut into 8ths (had this already)

WHAT I DID
**Pre-heat the oven to 325F and prepare a large baking dish for all the goods.**Improvised Mediterranean Chicken-2

I minced the garlic and put that and some olive oil into the bottom of a big bowl. Then I opened the can of artichokes and poured the whole thing right on top. I then cut the chicken approximately into thirds… just good sized bite pieces of both the thigh and the breast meat. (This is when I realized I’d gotten off-recipe, oh well!). So I threw everything else, except the feta, parsley, basil, and lemon right into the bowl and mixed it all together thoroughly so everything got covered with everything else.Improvised Mediterranean Chicken-3

Once I was satisfied with the mixing, I transferred the whole mess into the prepared baking dish. I cut up the lemon into eighths, and placed the pieces around the pan. Then I popped the whole shebang into the oven and baked at 325F for about 45 minutes.

While it was baking, I chopped the parsley, basil, and feta so it’d be all ready to go.Improvised Mediterranean Chicken-4
After 45 minutes, I took a peek and it looked great! My failure did not appear — at least superficially — to have resulted in a last-minute cereal dinner!

I turned off the oven, took the dish out, and removed the lemon pieces and discarded them. Then I added the parsley, basil, and feta, scattering it over the whole dish, and popped it back into the warm oven for about 5ish minutes, just enough time to let the herbs wilt and the cheese to start to soften but not melt all over the place.Improvised Mediterranean Chicken_5

That’s it! Really. That’s the whole story. I served it with some sliced challah bread and a glass of white vino. And it was a hit around the whole table. The two adults loved every bite. The toddler (who did not have vino) devoured the chicken and cheese (of course she did) and then surprised everyone by scarfing down beans and olives, too. Even cooked down and popped to juicy sweetness, this child refuses to admit she likes tomatoes of any kind. One day…

So what do you think? Easy, right? And decently timed for a weeknight. I usually try to keep my weeknight meals down to about 30-40 minutes from prep-to-table, but things don’t always work out the way we think they will, right? Best laid plans, as they say…

Enjoy! And let me know how it turns out if you try it!

(Thank you to The Clever Carrot for the original recipe and inspiration! And again, here‘s the recipe on my Pinterest Board “Yummmmm: Fish + Meats + Meals“)

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