I’m not sure where I read it, but someone recently pointed out that recipes today have to be both incredibly precise and entirely adaptable. Home cooks — myself included! — want and deserve to be set up for success. That means knowing how many ounces of chopped yellow onion to use — and exactly what to do if you don’t have or eat onions.
The pandemic is partially to blame, but these new metrics for recipe success also speak to our varying skill levels in the kitchen, the inconsistent availability of ingredients and our increasingly global pantries.
Some cooks have little access to fresh food, others are limited by long commutes or rising prices, while others are overwhelmed by options at megamarkets stocked with fresh and shelf-stable ingredients from all over the world. (The internet has further increased availability for some, but not everyone has access or the credit necessary to shop online.)
Aside from the easy swaps like what to use if you’re out of fresh lemon juice (lime juice, white wine vinegar or rice vinegar) or if you hate cilantro (omit it, or use scallions instead), I think a lot about how to make a dish vegetarian or vegan. That’s how I approached the development of this recipe, for roasted Greek Chicken or Cauliflower With Potatoes, Artichokes and Olives.
You start with either chicken quarters — the ones where the leg and thigh are attached — or a whole, large quartered cauliflower. These get rubbed with spices and herbs and roasted atop a medley of chopped potatoes and artichoke hearts. As it turns out, two pounds of chicken quarters (about 4 medium-sized) and a two-pound cauliflower, quartered, take the same amount of time to cook.
The potatoes roast and caramelize as the artichoke hearts soften. Then, once it’s out of the oven, you add smashed olives and some of their brine. Once it mixes with the pan juices, it turns into a tangy and rich sauce – whether your meal is meaty or vegan. A generous sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley adds a peppery finish.
But as always, I have even more suggestions for how to make this with the flavors you prefer and the ingredients available to you.
This recipe was designed for omnivores and vegetarians, though, if you make it with cauliflower, it’s actually vegan. Here are other ways to adapt it:
Instead of olive oil >> you can use any neutral-tasting oil or melted butter.
Garlic adds lots of flavor to this >> but skip it if you don’t like it, or use 2 teaspoons of garlic powder instead of the fresh cloves.
The lemon zest in combination with the herbs gives this dish its Greek flavor >> though orange zest would be nice instead, or you could use a lemon-pepper spice blend instead of the salt, pepper and lemon zest.
No oregano? >> Use fresh or dried parsley or dill.
The small amount of paprika or pepper goes a long way >> though you can use more or less if desired.
Not into potatoes? >> How about butternut squash or just using all artichoke hearts?
Instead of artichoke hearts >> you could use all potatoes, substitute whole fresh green beans or chopped cabbage or kale instead.
Kalamata olives and their brine are great here >> but you could skip them, or use any oily olive.
Out of lemon juice? >> Use more brine or another splash of vinegar instead.
Sheet Pan Chicken or Cauliflower With Lemony Potatoes and Kalamata Olives
Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 1 hour
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Oregano, lemon zest and garlic infuse chicken quarters — or, a quartered head of cauliflower — with aromatic flavors. Roasted on a sheet pan with potatoes and artichoke hearts, everything gets evenly crisp and tender. Once out of the oven, squeeze lemon juice over the vegetables and then add crushed kalamata olives and some of their juice to form a low-effort pan sauce.
Storage Notes: Leftovers may be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 4 days.
NOTE: Many chicken leg quarters are quite large. If they weigh significantly more than 2 pounds total, you may need to increase the bake time to 1 hour or more.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika or cracked black pepper
- 4 chicken leg quarters (about 2 pounds total; see NOTE), patted dry, or 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and quartered
- 4 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- One (13.5-ounce) can whole artichoke hearts, drained and halved
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, halved or smashed
- 1/4 cup kalamata olive brine or 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
- Small handful (about 1/2 ounce) fresh parsley leaves, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, lemon zest, oregano, salt and paprika or black pepper. Add the chicken or cauliflower and, using your hands, rub the mixture into the meat or vegetable.
- On a large, rimmed baking sheet, combine the potatoes and artichoke hearts. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and toss.
- Lay the quarters atop the potatoes and artichoke hearts and roast for 30 minutes. Toss the potatoes and artichoke hearts so they brown evenly. Rotate the pan, then roast for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked – an instant-read thermometer should read 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh – or cauliflower is crisp on the outside but fork-tender all the way through.
- Remove the pan from the oven and add the olives, olive brine and lemon juice. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to help mix any browned bits into the sauce, top with chopped fresh parsley, if using, and serve family style.
Nutrition information per serving (3/4 piece of chicken or cauliflower, 1 cup of roasted vegetables), based on 6 | If using cauliflower: Calories: 293; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 926 mg; Carbohydrates: 38 g; Dietary Fiber: 9 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 8 g. If using chicken: Calories: 463; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 91 mg; Sodium: 969 mg; Carbohydrates: 30 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Sugars: 1 g; Protein: 25 g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.