Grilled Chicken, Roast Vegetables and Tahini Dressing.

Grilled chicken tahini dressing

You may remember a daytime quiz show on TV called Supermarket Sweep, or Dale’s Supermarket Sweep as it was known in the UK to acknowledge the camp Quiz Meister himself. Sadly overlooked at the BAFTAs throughout its lifetime it was well loved by the unemployed, those with sick notes and students. It also conveniently fell after ‘This Morning’ and before Countdown. Epic daytime scheduling.

Of course these days I work for myself and as such sick notes are a distant memory, as are my student days but I seem to remember the basic premise was to reach the final where the contestants sprinted around a mock supermarket filling a trolley with as much as possible at some point. Wiki reliably informs me however, this was the ‘Big Sweep’, building to a crescendo with the awe inspiring ‘Super Sweep’.

The reason for my rambling is that this dish was born from a typical mid-week ‘Big Sweep’ shop. No meal planning, no due regard for use-by dates, I just grabbed anything remotely interesting, swiped the club card and got out of there.

And so, after returning home and getting tutted at for forgetting, once again,  to buy anything dessert related, this roast vegetable dish was constructed from the results of my ‘sweep’.

It’s fairly near-East in style so maybe I had a subconscious plan but aside from a little chopping and flattening, it was very easy to do. This also means it’s eminently adjustable if you wish.

The tahini nicely offset the sweet butternut squash and peppers, but then millions of people around the Mediterranean Sea knew that already. I added Chorizo to balance the dish out and it worked nicely too.

Serves 4

  • 4 small or 2 large chicken breasts.
  • Olive oil
  • 2 x 1 tsp chilli flakes (one for the vegetables, one for the chicken)
  • 1 tbsp za’tar
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 inch piece of Chorizo (or similar), diced quite finely
  • Small handful of seeds to finish (I used sunflower seeds)
  • Salt & Pepper

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Small squeeze lemon

Preheat the oven to 190°C/380°F.

Start by flattening the chicken into thin escalopes. If using large chicken breasts, halve them through the middle first.

Flattened chicken breast

Season the chicken with salt pepper and 1 tsp of chilli flakes and brush with the some of the oil. Leave aside for now.

Slice the butternut squash into 1 inch/2.5cm cubes and chop the onion and pepper into large chunky pieces. Place the vegetables (leave the garlic whole) with the Chorizo into a tight fitting tray and pour over enough olive oil to coat well. Add the Za’tar and mix once more. Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes and roast in a fairly hot oven (190°C/380°F) with foil on for about 20 minutes.

Roast vegetables with za'tar

Remove the foil and roast for another 15-20 minutes until the butter nut squash is tender and the veg has some nice crisp edges.

Meanwhile – mix the tahini dressing by combining the ingredients in a small lidded container and shake well.

Lastly, get a griddle pan smoking hot and cook each piece of chicken until nicely barred on each side. They should only take minutes each if thin enough.

Serve the chicken on the vegetables (remove the garlic unless you want it). Drizzle over the tahini dressing and then the seeds.

 Grilled chicken with roast vegetables and tahini dressing

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Falafel and Tahini Sauce

Hi everyone. I promise I’m trying hard to get in the festive spirit at the moment, but rather than winding down for Christmas, my day job seems to be winding up!

I was hoping to post some more festive recipes and findings this week, but I’ll leave that until next. In the meantime, I decided to make some distinctly cheery falafel.

A staple in the middle east, it’s quick, easy, filling, tasty and yet healthy, a bit of a Holy Grail then. It can be as mild or spicy as you like, I like it hot, Helen likes it mild, so I made it somewhere in the middle!

I managed to get some tahini paste in town the other week (a mixture of crushed sesame seed and oil) to make a simple tahini sauce recipe that I shamelessly ‘borrowed’ from BBC Goodfood’s website. It was the first time I tried and it and it’s delicious, a really nice background flavour that I think would work in a whole range of dinners.

Falafel

Ingredients:

Falafel:

  • 400g chickpeas, or 200g dried.
  • 1 handful of parsley
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 1 handful of breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 and onion roughly chopped
  • Oil for frying

If using whole coriander and/or cumin seeds, dry roast them first in a frying pan and pound to a powder in a pestle and mortar. If using dried chickpeas, soak overnight and simmer beforehand for about 45 mins – 1 hour until cooked. Let them go cold.

To make the falafel, simply – chuck everything into a food processor and blitz until a smooth but thick (shapeable) paste.

Divide the mixture evenly, either lots of small falafels, or a few larger ones as you prefer. Roll then into balls and flatten slightly. Preferably then leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up, but I often just get them straight in the pan…

Heat a pan big enough to hold the falafel without being too big (or you’ll need too much oil) and fry on both sides until crispy and brown. About 5 minutes in total should do it.

In the meantime, you can make the sauce by mixing 5 tbsp of yoghurt with a heaped tsp of tahini, a good pinch of salt, chilli powder and juice of half a lime. Taste it and adjust it as you see fit.

That’s it! Simply serve it up on flat bread or pittas. We made our own bread (from 50g white/50g brown flour, 60 ml water, pich of salt, halved and rolled thinly and cooked on a hot cast iron pan), but for speed I often use shop-bought.

Tahini Sauce