One-Pot Mediterranean Chicken & Rice (with pistachio-parsley pesto, za’atar roasted tomatoes, and homemade pita)

Monday it reached 90 degrees with 70% humidity in Central Indiana. It was oppressively hot. Yet, thanks to late snow and frost followed by heavy spring rain, we also had not yet planted-out the Main Garden for the summer. With several consecutive days of high heat and a forecast calling for more rain in a few days, I knew that Monday was the best possible day to get our vegetable starts out of the greenhouse and into the ground. So, I bent in the muggy heat, sweat dripping off me, and successfully planted-out tomatoes, summer squashes, and herbs, then sowed carrots, corn, and green beans. It was breathless work, but it was worth it.

After that, I really didn’t feel like cooking. Earlier in the day I had thawed some chicken and stuck it in a marinade roughly resembling a Greek flavor profile. I made pita bread, thinking maybe chicken gyros. But then, by the time dinner rolled around, the prep for gyros seemed insurmountable to me, despite having the hardest parts complete.

So, what’s a girl to do, but pull-out her trusty Dutch Oven, favored purveyor of all one-pot dishes. I had some pistachio-parsley pesto waiting to be usesd in the fridge. Some leftover slow-roasted za’atar and red wine vinegar tomatoes that had gone on bruschetta. And lots of leafy baby greens threatening to expire if I did not use them in a timely manner. Combined with my already marinated chicken and some basmati rice, suddenly I had a plan that would deliver a delicious meal in under 30 minutes and with only a few minutes of upfront prep. Win! It was tasty and filling and with warmed pita on the side, felt decadent without it being overly heavy or rich.

Mediterranean Chicken & Rice
Yield: 8-10 servings (enough for a crowd!)

olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, diced and marinated (recipe below)
2 T The Spice House Greek seasoning blend (or your own mixture of your favorite Mediterranean herbs)
1 1/2 C basmati rice
2 1/2 C water
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 C baby kale (or a mixture of other baby greens you have on hand)
1/2 t crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 C pistachio parsley pesto (recipe below)
1 C roasted za’atar tomatoes (recipe below)
1/2 C crumbled feta cheese
1/2 C fresh grated parmesan cheese (or more to taste)

In a Dutch Oven, or your favorite large, lidded pan, heat a few turns of the pan of olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from the marinade and add to the hot oil. Saute until nearly cooked-through, about 3 minutes, then add the onions. Cook another 3 minutes, or until onions are soft, then add the minced garlic, crushed red pepper, and greek seasoning blend (or your own mixture of Mediterranean herbs–seriously, you can’t mess this up) and cook 1 minute. Add the rice and stir it into the mixture, tossing it around to toast it in the flavors in the bottom of the pot for 1-2 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper and add the water. Place the lid on, turn the heat down to low, and let the rice simmer for 12 minutes, about halfway.

Halfway through, remove the lid and add everything else: the greens, the pistachio parsley pesto, the tomatoes, and the cheeses. Stir it all in well, then replace the lid and cook another 10-12 minutes, stirring twice so the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn with the cheese, until rice is done. Serve with warm pita.

Greek-style Marinade for Chicken:
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil
2 t ground oregano
1 t smoked paprika

Mix everything together. Place chicken pieces into marinade in a lidded container and let set several hours or overnight.

Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes:
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T za’atar
4 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Halve the tomatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add the za’atar and garlic and then toss loosely together. Arrange them (mostly–don’t spend forever carefully placing tiny tomatoes) cut-side up on a baking sheet. Slow roast tomatoes for 1- 1 1/2 hours.

Note: These are excellent to make when you have tomatoes about to go bad. They freeze beautifully and are a wonderful addition to all kinds of dishes. For more of an Italian flavor, substitute your favorite Italian herbs for the za’atar.

Pistachio-Parsley Pesto:
1/2 C italian flat-leaf parsley
1 C baby spinach (or your favorite baby green)
1/4 C basil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 t crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
1/3 C roasted pistachios
1/4 C olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, add everything but the olive oil. Process together until all herbs have been finely chopped. Add the olive oil and process for less than a minute, until smooth.

Note: This also freezes beautifully. Herbs in olive oil frozen in ice cube trays are one of my favorite easy ways to preserve summer’s bounty and can add such lovely bright flavor to dishes with minimal effort (place ice cub into pot–ta da!). The combinations here are endless. Mix-up the herbs and the nuts. Have fun with it.

Homemade Pita:
Yield: 6-8 pitas

1 1/4 C warm water to 110-115 degrees
1 T yeast
1 t sea salt
3 – 3 1/2 C AP flour

Heat water to 110-115 degrees and add the yeast. Let it stand for a few minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer (or bowl, if kneading by hand), and add sea salt and half the flour. Use a rubber spatula to work the flour in, and then add the rest of the flour, up to the third cup. Work it in with the rubber spatula again (or turn the mixer on to low with the paddle attachment, but I don’t like dirtying two attachments, so I just use the spatula). Using the dough hook, or your trusty hands, knead the dough for 5 minutes in the mixer 8-10 minutes by hand, working in the remaining 1/2 C of flour as necessary to form a dough that is slightly sticky but smooth, elastic, and very workable.

Divide dough into 6-8 even pieces. Flour a board and roll the pieces into balls. Using the flat palm of your hand, press firmly down in the center of each ball to form a disc, and then use your fingers to work the dough out to a rough 6 inch or so circle. Let each circle rest in a little flour on the board and after you’ve completed your final circle, cover them all with a tea towel and let rise for at least 1 hour, until circles are noticeably plumper and thicker.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grab a pita gently and turn it over so that the rising side is on the bottom, touching the sheet pan. Repeat with two more pitas, or as many as you can comfortably fit onto a sheet pan and still have room to maneuver a spatula to turn them over. Bake pitas for about 7 minutes, then flip them over to the other side and bake another 3. Remove from the oven and serve.

Note: For extra pita-love, and if you have a clean oven, you can place the finished pitas directly on the bottom of your oven for 1-2 minutes so they develop a crust. It’s delicious.

Published by kelinmchull

Wife, mother, teacher, dreamer/doer, adventurer, wannabe farmer, writer, and all around curious gal.

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