Busy lives need quick meals that don’t require a ton of prep, crazy ingredients or lots of dishes because the last thing I want to do after a long day of work, kids activities and homework-checking is a counter loaded up with dishes.
Baked dinners are a classic weeknight solution, but how to make one that is healthy, flavorful, and easy? This basic chicken and potato bake is so simple, you might breeze right past the recipe.
But the trick is: lots of lemon juice. Half a cup sounds like a ton, but it’s what makes the chicken super flavorful in just minutes. The high acid level gets right into the chicken and tenderizes it, and yet as it bakes, the acid mellows and softens into a gorgeous gentle tang. The second trick to this dinner-in-a-pan is a super quick turn in the microwave for some baby potatoes (Note: you can cube up larger potatoes if you don’t have tiny ones).
I’m using boneless skinless chicken breast, but you can use pork chops (bone-in recommended) or even fish. My weeknight strategy: pop this pan into the oven, toss together a green salad, and set the table while the chicken cooks. Easy, healthy, and even comforting in a fall-night sort of way.
BAKED CHICKEN AND POTATO DINNER
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic, or 1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound fingerling potatoes, cleaned
1 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 red onion, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup small cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
lemon wedges, for garnish
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, granulated garlic and salt and pepper. Pierce each potato a couple of times with a fork (to allow steam to escape), and place the potatoes in a medium microwave-safe bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice mixture. Cover with a lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape, and microwave on high until potatoes begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the chicken breasts, onion and tomatoes in the lemon juice mixture and toss to coat. Let sit for a few minutes.
Spray an oven-safe baking pan with nonstick spray. Pour the potatoes on the bottom of the baking sheet. Pour the chicken, onions, tomatoes and remaining marinade on top of the potatoes. Bake until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and serve with a green salad.
Nutrition information per serving: 401 calories; 131 calories from fat; 15 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 124 mg cholesterol; 326 mg sodium; 25 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 41 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”