Chicken with Harissa, Potatoes and Broccolini

A few of you may recognise this as one of my earliest recipes on these pages.  So long ago in fact that it doesn’t even have a photograph.  Although I cook my recipes over and over again this is the first time I’ve duplicated one here.  The reason being I  felt it lacked fanfare originally and is such a reliable and delicious lunch or supper that I thought it deserved a shout out, as they say.  Also and somewhat inevitably, I have tinkered with it adding potatoes to the original to make it a complete one pan meal.

It is this sort of dish that I find an absolute Godsend on weekdays when I’m frazzled and need to think of (yet another) family supper that is quick, easy, undemanding, not too expensive and above all delicious – clean plates after all are what we want to see.  This ticks all those boxes, cooked in one pan which you can bring to the table, incorporates potatoes, meat and veg along with a super easy spice addition by way of the harissa. I refer you here to a comment I made about the original which still stands – “Crisp skinned chicken sliding off the bone in a spicy red jacket with crunchy greens to give verdant vigour!”

Chicken with Harissa and Broccolini

If you like things a little spicier feel free to add more harissa and if you want it a little saucier, add a glug of white wine with the final teaspoon of harissa.

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on

8 waxy potatoes, halved

5 teaspoons harissa paste

1 pack tenderstem broccolini

Chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190.  Put the potatoes and oil in a large baking pan and turn to coat.  Put half a teaspoon of harissa under the skin of each thigh and squidge a bit to spread.  Put the chicken in with the potatoes, season and roast 30 minutes.  Towards the end of this cooking time blanch the broccolini in boiling water for 1 minute and drain.  Remove the chicken from the oven, stir the last teaspoon of harissa into the cooking juices and then fit the broccoli in and around the chicken and potatoes (put some of the chicken on the potatoes if that helps).  Return to the oven for 10 minutes.  Season, sprinkle with parsley if you like and serve, this is enough for 2 adults and 2 children but you can multiply it at will.

Eat your (real) greens soup

Green Soup

Everywhere I look right now I read about re-alkanising my probably too acid body, super powders, acai, cleansing (is that a euphemism?), optimum ph, powdered greens to add to my wheatgrass juice etc etc.  Now I am not knocking anyone who might want to add any of the above to their daily diet but in all honesty isn’t it easier, cheaper and just more real to eat vegetables.  Surely these are better in their fresh, honest and original state than any dried, powdered, vitamin added supplement?

As you see from these pages I try to cook seasonally and from scratch whilst still retaining a little fun and indulgence, balance being the spice of life and all that.  I know I should probably eat more fruit and I definitely could do with more fish in my diet but generally I reckon we do ok.  If I were to present my family with a glass each of coconut water or almond milk and ask them to add a sachet of revitalising, re-balancing green powder to it, well what do you think they would say?  I have a rough idea.

There are a million salads, juices, smoothies and soups doing the rounds but this soup is what I had for lunch today.  Broccoli, spring onions and spinach were languishing in the fridge, a plucky mint plant is soldiering on in the garden despite the rain and I was given a box of lemons yesterday.  I want to eat healthily but I also hate throwing away food.  This was the result.  I made a straightforward vegetable soup, the peas added a little sweetness to balance (!) the spinach, a spritz of lemon and fresh mint brought a hint of Spring to the party.  A dollop of Greek yogurt added a perfect richness whilst the seeds gave crunchy, tasty texture.

Clear your fridge and cleanse yourself at the same time.  Happy New Year!

Green Vegetable Soup

As I said, this is what I had in the fridge today.  Previous incarnations of this soup have included leeks, watercress, courgettes and chard.  All of these were probably looking a little past their best which is why they ended up in soup.  Use whatever you have. There is nothing to stop you buying the ingredients specifically for soup but isn’t it satisfying when these end up on your plate rather than the compost?

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 spring onions, finely chopped (use a regular onion if you don’t have any spring)

1 head of broccoli (approx 250g) chopped fairly small

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large handful fresh spinach

1 cup of frozen peas (around 125g)

A few sprigs of mint

A few sprigs of parsley (if you have them)

750ml vegetable stock

Half a lemon

Greek yogurt to serve

Toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Heat the oil in a pan and gently soften the spring onion.  Add the broccoli (you want it chopped fairly small to you don’t have to simmer it for hours) and the stock and cook for around 5 minutes until the point of a knife goes into a piece easily.  Add the spinach and peas and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the mint and parsley if using.  Stir so these are wilted and then blend.  Serve with blob of yogurt, a good spritz of lemon and as many seeds as you like.  Enough for 4 with something else or 2 if that is all you are having.