Chicken and Cauliflower Roast is an easy dinner packed with fun flavors. You’ll find most of the ingredients right in your pantry and fridge.
One of my favorite things about working in test kitchens over the years are “family meals.” We took the term from restaurants. Just before the evening rush starts in a restaurant, the kitchen staff will make and sit down to what they call a family meal. It’s usually made from leftovers in the big walk-in refrigerators the industrial kitchens have. Sometimes these meals are more epic than the dishes served on the restaurant menus. (There are even cookbooks with these recipes like this one from Danny Meyer’s restaurants).
Kitchen staffs get used to making great meals from leftovers and pantry staples. In the smaller scale test kitchens of magazines, we would do just that. Instead of trekking out for lunch to the office cafe or deli down the street, my fellow food editors and I would head to the test kitchen and create lunch from the bits and bobs left over from our normal recipe development.
Chicken and Cauliflower Roast is just such a meal. Inspired by one of the lunches food editor Hilary Merzbacher used to make, this recipe is very simple and roasts in the oven while you do other things.
I used chicken thighs because they are tender and quite affordable. You could swap in chicken breasts if you want. Use bone-in so they have great flavor and stay juicy. (Cut the chicken breasts in half so they are smaller if you use them. My goodness have you noticed how giant chicken breasts are these days!).
Cauliflower and cherry tomatoes are tossed with olive oil and Italian seasoning. This can be done in the same bowl as the chicken and then everything goes on a rimmed baking sheet to roast. Roasting cauliflower is a surprising treat. It caramelizes and turns golden brown in parts and when eaten, almost melts in your mouth.
To serve this meal I topped it with some pantry staples — the things staff family meals are made of. I always seem to have a few capers at the bottom of a jar in my fridge door, some sort of nuts and golden raisins. In the spirit of using what you have you can swap the pine nuts for pecans, walnuts, even almonds. And the golden raisins are delicious and sweet, but feel free to use the dried fruit you have. Chopped dried apricots or currants would be tasty as well.
A handful of chopped Italian parsley adds a fresh kick to a roasted dinner. Serve this with a bit of French bread and butter. If you’re on an easy meal kick, try my Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos, or make Packet Dinners in parchment and let the kids have fun opening the packets.
- 2¼ pounds bone-in skinless* chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
- 1 head cauliflower cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons capers chopped
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat oven to 425ºF. In a large bowl toss the chicken together with the cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Transfer everything to a rimmed baking sheet; roast until chicken and cauliflower are golden, about 40 minutes.
In a small bowl combine capers, pine nuts, golden raisins and parsley and sprinkle over chicken to serve.
*If your meat department doesn't have skinless, simply remove the skin at home with some kitchen shears.
Recipe inspired by Hilary Merzbacher
Styling and Photography Tara Bench