Chicken and Cauliflower Roast is an easy sheet pan dinner packed with flavor. 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 were “family meals.” We took the term from restaurant culture.
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).
Restaurant kitchen’s staff 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 sheet pan dinner:
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.
The nice thing is it all fits on one sheet pan, sometimes referred to as a half sheet pan or rimmed baking sheet.
Use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts:
I used chicken thighs because they are tender when roasted and quite affordable.
I also prefer bone-in chicken thighs because the meat stays soft and succulent when roasted for almost an hour. You could use boneless if you’d like.
You’ll want to use skinelss thighs because there would be too much fat melted onto the pan if you used skin on. It’s easy to skin your own if you don’t find bone-in, skin-on thighs. I use a paper towel to pull the skin from the thighs.
Leaving a little fat on each thigh is just fine and adds great flavor to the sheet pan dinner.
If you want to swap in chicken breasts know that they may be a little more dry by the time they are cooked. Chicken breasts usually like quick cooking, rather than roasting. Use bone-in so they have great flavor and stay juicy.
TIP: Cut the chicken breasts in half if you are using them so they are smaller (about the size of a thigh). My goodness have you noticed how giant chicken breasts are these days!.
Roasting Chicken and Vegetables Together:
Cauliflower and cherry tomatoes are tossed with olive oil and Italian seasoning along with the chicken. This can be done in the same bowl and then everything goes on a rimmed baking sheet to roast.
The secret to perfectly cooked veggies and chicken is to cut the cauliflower (and potatoes if you are adding) into small pieces so they cook perfectly by the time the chicken is done.
Potatoes take longer to cook so cut those to ½ inch to 1 inch big. Cauliflower will perfectly roast when cut into about 1 inch florets, a little larger is fine too.
Roasting cauliflower is a surprising treat. It caramelizes and turns golden brown in parts and when eaten, almost melts in your mouth.
The cherry tomatoes get soft and juicy and just a bit charred for flavor. Almost creating a sauce for the entire meal.
Add potatoes for a complete meal:
I added baby creamer potatoes to one of my versions. It was delicious. I’ll put it in as an option for this recipe. It was an easy addition that created a complete meal with all the veggies sides right on the pan!
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 on a sheet pan in parchment and let the kids have fun opening the packets.
Chicken and Cauliflower Sheet Pan Dinner
- 2¼ pounds bone-in, skinless* chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
- 1 small head cauliflower trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- ¾ lb baby potatoes, yellow creamer or red (optional) cut into ½ or 1 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 2½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons capers chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat oven to 425ºF. In a large bowl toss the chicken with the cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, potatoes if using, olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Transfer everything to a rimmed baking sheet; roast until chicken and cauliflower are golden, 40 to 50 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine capers, pine nuts, golden raisins and parsley and sprinkle over chicken to serve.
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Styling and Photography Tara Teaspoon. Recipe inspired by Hilary Merzbacher