What can I say. I’m like the girl who always turns up late to the party, or not at all, as has been the case! As I may have mentioned in my last post, things have been a changing round here and I’ve been both distracted and a bit displaced, but all for the better, eventually. I’m hoping to be able to bring you some new things soon, possible new (and big) projects and a little make over, of a sort. In the meantime I hope that you are welcoming in the autumnal weather; you’ve got to love a season that allows for the possibility of wearing both knitware and sunglasses. Praise be to that.
Also, tis the season for warming, laid back style suppers and that’s where this recipe comes in. I don’t think there are many things more satisfying than a delicious one-pot supper – packed full of flavour, the juices mingling and melding, flavours intensifying and blending, serve it straight from the oven or stove, delve in and share it out amongst you, enjoy, savour and then chuck the pan in the sink to soak, lovely! We often think of one-pot dishes as wintry food but actually they are truly suited to all of the seasons when you can mix and match with the huge abundance of fresh vegetables to pack it out, maybe go wild and add a fresh salad on the side or keep it warming and serve with wintry wilted greens. The importance, as always, is the flavour and by cooking this dish in one roasting tin you allow the tastes and juices to balance and soak each other up.
For this super simple supper you make a quick and gorgeously nutty pesto from the lots of roasted almonds and fresh basil – I’ve given you the quantities to make a proper batch so that you can save half and use it to stir through pasta, or coat your spiralised courgettes, have on toast as a kind of bruschetta or whatever suits your fancy. I should add the almonds are an incredibly good for you, they make up a healthy form of fat and are packed with vitamin E and an impressive collection of flavanoids, in this instance they also make a delicious crust for the chicken, bringing texture and flavour to the party. Sweet roasted potatoes and the tender bite of aniseed fennel and you’ve got a delicious and easy supper sorted.
Almond Pesto Crusted Chicken with Roast Sweet Potato & Fennel
For the pesto
100g whole almonds
A large bunch of basil
1 clove of garlic
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skinless
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
Preheat the oven to 200c. Scatter the almonds over a roasting tray and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until browned – check every now and then to ensure the almonds don’t catch. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down for 10 minutes. Once cool, place them in a food processor and pulse until they are the consistency of breadcrumbs. Pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic clove (peeled first), a pinch of sea salt and the basil, pulse until combined – you want a slightly coarse, rustic looking pesto and if you feel it is a little dry then feel free to add extra olive oil.
Lightly scrub the sweet potato and cut into large chunks. Trim the ends from the fennel and then cut lengthways into quarters, place the sweet potato and fennel into a large roasting tray. Next, use a sharp knife to score two or three 1cm deep cuts into the chicken thighs, place the thighs in the roasting tray with the vegetables and then spoon over half of the pesto onto the top of the chicken thighs, ensuring that you get the pesto into the made cuts and spreading over the top too.
Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and season with sea salt and black pepper, roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender – the pesto will form a lovely crunchy crust on the chicken. Remove from the oven, and serve immediately with wedges of fresh lemon to season.