This past weekend, my family traveled to New Jersey to celebrate my niece’s First Communion. The reception afterwards was at a beautiful, well-reputed restaurant where my brother had rented a room, complete with a buffet of assorted options from seafood, beef, and chicken to pasta and rice to salads and roasted vegetables. Of the ten items to choose from, I could eat three. The rest were all cooked in butter.
Fortunately, my brother had arranged for a special plate to be made for me, but it can be sad to be the odd person out, watching folks enjoy food you can’t have. This experience was fresh in my mind when a friend called to ask if there was something quick and easy she could make that would also be a “nice, company meal” because she was hosting a dinner where one person had severe food allergies. No wheat, eggs, dairy, nut, soy, or citrus foods could be served.
I applauded her desire to make something which everyone could eat and immediately thought of one of my go-to meals, chicken and vegetables. This may seem like a ho-hum meal to serve company, but if you roast whole carrots with sliced zucchini and bake tender, seasoned chicken breasts and serve both with a beet sauce, the experience becomes more than ho-hum, and if you look at the pictures, the food looks pretty, too, which enhances the appetite.
What’s even better, is that the entire meal takes only about 45 minutes from beginning to end to make, which gives you plenty of time to hang with your guests. While the veggies roast, you work on the chicken, and while the chicken cooks, you work on the sauce.
Company Baked Chicken Breasts and Roasted Vegetables
2 lb bag of whole carrots, peeled (normal size, not crazy, huge ones)
Zucchini, sliced lengthwise into quarters, about size to eight medium-sized ones
6 chicken breasts, 4 ounces each (palm size portion, not crazy, hormone-induced size)
red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups cooked beets (I buy precooked, ready to go ones in the vegetable section)
1 cup unsalted, no sugar chicken bone broth (I find this at my local grocery store)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chopped onion
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
- Lightly coat the carrots with olive oil and place into a large oven proof pan which will hold the carrots in a single layer with space left for the zucchini to be added.
- Roast for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the carrots.
- Remove the pan, stir the carrots, lightly coat the zucchini quarters in olive oil, and add them to the pan.
- Roast for 5 minutes, remove the pan and stir, adding onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, tarragon, red pepper flakes and black pepper – all to your liking.
- Roast for another 5 minutes and arrange the vegetables on an oven safe, serving platter, and set aside. Turn the heat down to 450 degrees.
- While the vegetables are roasting in the oven, line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper and lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the chicken breasts. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, tarragon, red pepper flakes and black pepper – to your taste and liking.
- Cover the chicken breasts with another piece of parchment paper, tucking the ends in around the chicken into the pan.
- Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and let it sit, exactly as it is with the parchment covering it, and turn down the heat to 300 degrees. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes to reabsorb its juices.
- Put the veggies which have been transferred to an oven safe serving platter into the oven to finish cooking while the chicken sits for the 10 minutes.
- While the chicken breasts are resting and the veggies are finishing, put the cooked beets into a blender with the bone broth, garlic, onions, cumin and ginger, and puree until completely smooth.
- Pour the sauce into a microwave safe, serving pitcher, and microwave for a minute at a time until the sauce is warm.
- After the 10 minute resting time, remove the parchment paper from the chicken, remove the veggie platter from the oven, and serve both with the warmed beet sauce.