Several years ago, when my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas, I said a Mediterranean cookbook. That’s kind of a scary thing, sending someone else on a quest to get a cookbook, because I think cookbooks are such a personal thing. What I like in a cookbook (inspiring pictures and a casual writing style), might not be what you like in a cookbook. So, I made my request, not really expecting much, or actually, expecting to have to return it. But my husband came through, he occasionally does that, and bought me Mediterranean: Food of the Sun: A Culinary Tour of Sun-Drenched Shores with Evocative Dishes from Southern Europe. This is a gorgeous, big, hard cover book, with the most incredible photographs ever. It has step-by-step photos and beautifully presented finished shots. It almost feels like a coffee table book, but unlike most (The French Laundry comes to mind), this one is so usable!
One of the first recipes I made from the book was Olive Oil-Roasted Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables. I’ve adapted it slightly.
Olive Oil-Roasted Chicken with Mediteranean Vegetables
4 1/2 lb roasting chicken
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound small new potatoes
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered
8 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
coarse salt and ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil and season with pepper. Place the lemon half inside the bird with a sprig or two of fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme). Put the chicken breast side down in a large roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven and season with the salt. Turn the chicken right side up and baste with the drippings from the pan. Surround the bird with the potatoes, eggplant, red pepper, fennel and garlic cloves. Roll them around in the pan to coat with the pan drippings. Season with salt and pepper and add any remaining thyme. Roast for 50 more minutes, basting occasionally (I didn’t baste).
This is so good, and I don’t even like eggplant! When I made this, I followed the original instructions which has you put the potatoes in after the first 30 minutes, roast for 30 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables. I did that this time, but afterwards I remembered that I liked it better when all of the vegetables roasted for the longer time. It seemed to caramelize them better. I like to serve this over polenta, it’s earthy flavor seems to go so well with the other flavors in this dish.
And today is your lucky day, people! You get a bonus recipe! Well, it’s not actually a recipe, but I’ve got a suggestion for what to do with the leftovers. I shredded the chicken and mixed it with the roasted vegetables and spread in the bottom of a baking dish. I added a little chicken broth, but that probably wasn’t necessary. I spread the polenta over the top, peppered it generously and grated a little parmesan reggiano cheese on top. I baked it at a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Sort of a rustic pot pie. It was so good!!! I almost liked it more than the original recipe!
This is going to be my post for Weekend Herb Blogging created Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen. It is hosted this week by Vanessa at What Geeks Eat. I’m so proud of myself, my herb this week is thyme…not cilantro or basil!