In a mad rush to cook dinner last night I threw together this Mediterranean chicken bake a.k.a. ‘everything in a tray’ bake. After a delightful but full on weekend Sunday evening rolled around a little too quickly and brought with it a severe shortage of ideas for supper. Weary eyed from serious lack of sleep thanks to a teething bubby I needed dinner to be effortless, simple, delicious and to use whatever I had in the refrigerator and store cupboard, there was no way in hell I had a trip to the store left in me.
With a peculiar mix of desperation and hope in my heart my eyes eagerly darted around the kitchen frantically searching for a collection of ingredients that would somehow come together with some sense of culinary harmony to create a satisfying dinner. I felt the food gods smile down upon me when I began to see the makings of a chicken bake as I laid eyes on chicken, eggplant, zucchini, a jar of olives and passata. Saved I thought.
As Rob cuddled and soothed a teething and grumbling Grace I layered a large baking tray with thinly sliced eggplant, chicken tenderloins, shaved zucchini pieces and a few tomato wedges. To add a little extra oomph I added a couple of cloves of thinly sliced garlic, a good scattering of olives, a few fresh oregano leaves from my herb garden and bathed the entire chicken vegetable mess with a large jar of passata spiked with a little brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.
The bake spent a good half hour or so bubblying away in the oven and made the most delicious impromptu dinner we’ve had in a long time. This style of cooking chicken is wonderful, being submerged in passata the chicken poaches and remains wonderfully succulent and juicy as well as infusing with the delicious flavours of garlic, tomato, olives and oregano. And the vegetables and passata create a gorgeously fragrant sauce that is beautifully mopped up when served alongside a good helping of carby couscous.
To make your own ‘everything in a tray’ bake loosely follow my directions but please feel free to replace/take/add your own ingredients and make it your own.
I began with a little chopping. I thinly sliced the eggplant, chopped the tomato into wedges and used a vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini into thin slices.
Next I layered a large ceramic baking dish with the eggplant and seasoned with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I then topped the eggplant with the chicken pieces and seasoned with a little more sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
I then added the remaining ingredients; tomatoes, olives, garlic, zucchini and some fresh oregano leaves.
In a bowl I emptied the tomato passata jar, then added a little water to the jar to coax the remaining passata out with a gentle swirl or two. To the passata I added the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and mixed to combine.
I then poured the tomato passata mix over the chicken vegetable mess and popped the tray into a preheated 200°C oven to bubble and bake for a good half hour or so. Just until the chicken had cooked and the sauce had slightly thickened.
I served the wonderfully fragrant chicken and Mediterranean vegetables over a bed of lovely couscous.
Mediterranean chicken bake
1 eggplant, thinly sliced
8 chicken tenderloins
1 zucchini, thinly sliced (use a vegetable peeler)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cup of mixed olives (pitted are always the best for the kiddies)
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves (or any herb of your choice)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Couscous and fresh parsley, to serve
Preheat oven to 200°C. In a large oven tray arrange eggplant slices and season with salt and pepper. Top with chicken, zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, olives, oregano and season with salt and pepper. In a bowl pour passata, vinegar and sugar and mix to combine. Pour passata mixture over chicken/vegetables and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and sauce has thickened slightly. Serve with couscous and a sprinkling of parsley.
You might also like…