Tag Archives: peppers

Summer Chicken Tray Bake

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Inspired from a recipe in the Hairy Bikers “Hairy Dieters” book. Their recipe included chorizo (75g, thinly sliced) which would have been a fabulous addition, alas none was to be found in my house. This is a really pretty and straight-forward dish and would make a great centre-piece for people to help themselves, on its own or accompanied by a leafy salad.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

4-5 chicken breasts (approx 600-700g) deeply slashed every inch or so
2 red onions, cut into 8 wedges
500g new potatoes, cut into inch cubes if large/left whole if small
8 whole garlic cloves, in their skins
4 large tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges
10 or so sundried tomatoes, halved
handful asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano/mixed herbs
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 peppers (colour of your choosing!) cut into 1cm thick strips
salt and pepper
lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/gas mark 6. Stick onions, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes in a large roasting tin. Season with plenty of pepper and a little salt, drizzle with a little oil (I used the oil from the sundried tomatoes) turn everything over with a spoon or similar implement. Roast for 20 minutes. Mix the paprika, turmeric and oregano and set aside.

Put the chicken breasts on a board, season all over with ground pepper. Remove the vegetables from the oven, sprinkle over half of the spice mix, shake/turn to coat. Add the sundried tomatoes (and chorizo if you’re lucky enough to have some!). Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the rest of the spice mix – open up the slices and try to get some in if possible. Return to the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the tin from the oven. Holding one corner (use oven gloves, obviously) tip the tray ever so slightly so the juices run down to the opposite corner. I recommend tipping it slightly away from you as if there are any spillages at least it will go toward the relative safety of the top of the oven and not all over you and the floor! Spoon the juice back over everything – concentrate more on the chicken. Add the pepper strips around the chicken.

Return the tray to the oven and turn up to 220oC/425oF/gas mark 7 for ten minutes. Remove and lay the asparagus spears over the top of everything. Return to the oven one final time for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your asparagus. Stab a couple of the potatoes to ensure they’re cooked through and serve.

J

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Picnic Loaf

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This picnic loaf makes for the easiest and most impressive sandwiches at any picnic, even at short notice. The idea is that you take one loaf of bread, take out most of the filling and replace it with layers of your favourite sandwich fillings. I must admit I ‘borrowed’ this recipe from the Co-op magazine but it was so incredible, I had to share it!

Ingredients

1 medium round loaf (400g)
3 sweet peppers – it looks best if you have three different colours eg. red, orange and yellow
1 medium courgette
125g ball mozzarella
2 good handfuls fresh basil
8 (approx) cherry or baby plum tomatoes
1 handful spinach (or similar leaves)
black pepper

Note: these are just suggested ingredients. Why not try: Parma ham, chorizo, chicken, tuna, avocado, chilli, grated carrot, smoked salmon, cream cheese, sausage, caramelised red onions, mustard, beetroot, bacon, spring onion, pesto…?

Method

Start by preparing your veg. Chop the peppers into quarters, slice the courgettes fairly thinly and cut the tomatoes in half. Roughly chop the basil and slice the mozzarella as thinly as you can without it breaking up too much.

Put the peppers skin-side-up on a baking tray and put under the grill until the skin burns. The tricky bit here is charring as much of the skin as you can without filling the kitchen with smoke. When the skins are sufficiently black, put the peppers in a plastic food bag and allow them to steam for around ten minutes. Meanwhile, grill the courgettes until just cooked and leave to cool.

Take the peppers out of the bag and peel off the skin (you will notice this is a lot easier where the skin is black). Allow to cool.

Slice the top off your loaf and hollow out the middle. Leave around 1-2cm around the edge to retain some structural integrity. I suggest you keep the scooped out bread and make some breadcrumbs (see tip below). Layer all of your filling ingredients neatly in the centre of the loaf and push down firmly as you go to cram in as much tasty stuff as you can. Add a few twists of fresh black pepper in there along the way. Replace the lid as neatly as you can. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour before packing in your picnic hamper – don’t forget to pack a bread knife.

It will last around a day (but expect a certain amount of soggy bread) in the fridge is you want to make it a bit longer in advance.

Making breadcrumbs

Take some unloved bread. Break up or slice into small pieces. If not already, leave to go stale. You can hurry this process up a bit by putting the bread in a warm place (for about a day) or a low temperature oven (for around fifteen minutes). Shake and break up the pieces every now and again. When stale, whizz them in a blender. Sprinkle over your pasta bake, use them to coat fishcakes or freeze them for another day.

Enjoy!

W