With fresh new produce in the house I was ready to make something full of vegetable goodness, but I knew that there were also some older items to use first. I had a beautiful eggplant that I was itching to use; the older vegetables to use were a roasted red pepper, half a fresh red pepper, a handful of grape tomatoes and half a zucchini. There was also a handful of fresh spinach...oh, and 1 1/2 cups of Basic Tomato Sauce that had been defrosted and not used yet.
My thinking cap on, so many ideas going through my head and this is what I came up with. It exceeded my expectations in the yumminess department, was reasonably healthy and allowed me to use up so many little things. I cooked the orzo that was left in the package and served the chicken, vegetables and sauce over that.
Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and dried oregano. I used:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
In a hot pan, using sundried tomato oil to prevent sticking, sear both sides of the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the pan, keep the pan on the heat.
a handful of grape tomatoes
to the hot pan, and cook, shaking the pan often, until the skin of the tomatoes starts to blister and pop. Remove the tomatoes from the pan.
Using a bit more sundried tomato oil if needed, add the vegetables to the hot pan, and cook over medium high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper while they cook.
You will need:
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 zucchini. diced
3 1/2" thick slices of eggplant, diced
When the vegetables are beginning to caramelize, add:
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cook for 2 minutes.
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1 handful of washed fresh spinach
Turn off the heat, and allow the heat from the vegetables to wilt the spinach.
To make the goats cheese crumble, combine:
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup crumbled soft goats cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Using your fingertips rub the goats cheese into the breadcrumbs to make the crumble. Set aside.
Spread the cooked vegetables on the bottom of an ovenproof dish.
1 1/2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
Place the seared chicken breasts and grape tomatoes on top of the Basic Tomato Sauce.
Spread the goats cheese crumble evenly over the top of the chicken and grape tomatoes.
Bake at 350F until the chicken is cooked, the vegetables and sauce are bubbling and the crumble is crispy and golden.
Serve a chicken breast and crumble, accompanied by sauce and vegetables over pasta or rice.
- The vegetable portion of this casserole is a basic ratatouille. This allowed me to use my beautiful eggplant, without ignoring the zucchini, pepper and tomatoes.
- The ratatouille can be used in other ways...make a vegetarian sub by using it instead of meatballs, add some cheese and broil to melt it; use it as a pasta sauce; use it as a filling for crepes or quiche.
- By using the oil from my sundried tomatoes I added flavour and depth to the dish, and stopped the oil from going to waste. The herbs and garlic that are usually added to sundried tomatoes packed in oil, as well as the intense dried tomato flavour can add a lot to something as simple as stir fried vegetables, omelettes or salads.
- If you do not have soft goats cheese, use feta cheese, herb Boursin or cream cheese. If you only have hard cheese such as Parmesan or asiago available, grate the cheese on the fine side of your grater, add it to the breadcrumbs along with just enough olive oil to bind it to the breadcrumbs and create a crumble.
- The crumble is a blank canvas as far as adding flavour...chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, parsley or chives; chopped green onion; minced fresh garlic; spices such as cayenne, chili flakes or fennel seeds; lemon zest are some ideas to try.
- The crumble can be used to top other baked dishes such as macaroni and cheese.
- The chicken can be diced and mixed into the vegetables and sauce. Leftover chicken or turkey from a roast can be diced and added instead.
- Other meats that can be used include pork chops, sausages, prawns or meatballs made from any ground meat.
- The Basic Tomato Sauce I used had been defrosted for another meal, and not used. Diced canned tomatoes and their juice can be used instead, as can a purchased tomato sauce.
- Chopped frozen spinach could be used as a substitute for the fresh spinach.
- Omit the meat and add in garbanzo beans to make this a vegetarian meal.