If there is any recipe that serves as a gateway to healthy eating and easy cooking, this is it. This is the first recipe I learned because it’s so simple, cheap, and great for beginners. While I am still learning, I’m no longer a beginner. Even so, when you become more familiar with cooking, not every recipe has to be ridiculously complicated – sometimes simple is best!
(Psst – wanna learn more about chicken? Check out this Focus on Food!)
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Baked Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables
On top of being really easy, this recipe is super customizable. I chose to incorporate the veggies and flavors that I use the most when making this meal, but you’ll see that there is a lot of potential for variations of this one! Try this version, or change it up based on the veggies and spices that you like.
- Chef’s Knife
- Large Mixing Bowl
- 1-2 Baking Sheets
- Optional: Lined with tinfoil for easy cleanup!
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line your baking sheet(s) with aluminum foil, if you want, for easier cleanup!
Start by washing and prepping your vegetables. I chose to use zucchini, red onion, red pepper, and mushrooms this time. You can find some veggies already precut to save you on prep time, but they’ll probably cost a little more at the grocery store. I chose to buy sliced mushrooms since they were the same price as whole mushrooms. They just need to be rubbed clean to get the dirt off. Easy!
I sliced my red peppers into strips and just roughly chopped my red onion so that they resembled little wedges. It doesn’t really matter what shape you cut them into – just as long as they’re relatively uniform so that they cook easily. The zucchini was sliced into discs.
As I cut the veggies, I transferred them into a large mixing bowl. In this bowl, I added the flavors I wanted on my veggies. I used a bit of olive oil, a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and some dried herbs – oregano, basil, and parsley. I tossed the veggies in the bowl to make sure they were evenly coated, but you can use a utensil to stir ’em up if that’s easier for you! Spread them onto a lined baking sheet. I like to make a lot of veggies, so I take up a whole baking sheet. You can do half, if you want, and save space on that sheet for the chicken!
Next, you’ll want to prep your chicken. I buy chicken breasts in bulk and freeze them individually, then pull them out as needed. I’ll thaw the chicken so it’s ready for me by the time I’m ready to cook. Don’t rinse the chicken in the sink – it’ll splatter chicken juice (and germs!) everywhere, even if you can’t see it! Instead, put it right on your cutting board and cut away any fat. I also cut my chicken breasts in half – they’re huge, and I can never eat the whole thing.
Season the chicken with the spices on both sides. Spray a little nonstick on the pan, and set the chicken breasts on it, spaced evenly. (Pssst…I cheated when taking these photos and did two versions of the chicken – one with the herbs listed and one with cajun seasoning! The ones with cajun made it into the photos. Oops! Oh, well. They make for prettier pictures anyway!)
Stick both the veggies and the chicken breasts in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. You can keep the veggies in longer to crisp them up a bit, but I wouldn’t give the chicken much more time. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer reads at least 165°F in the thickest part of the meat. Cook it any longer and it’ll get dried out and tough!
Boom! How easy was that? Prep, season, bake, eat. Love it.
Variations – Make it your own!
Like I said, this recipe has limitless variations. Here are some ideas:
- Vary your veggies! Make it a simple switch like yellow squash instead of zucchini, or swap it all out for different veggies altogether. Veggies that are great for roasting include potatoes, carrots, eggplant, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, and even kale! (Just watch them in the oven – kale won’t take as long as a whole acorn squash, you know?)
- Change up your flavors! Balsamic vinegar is sweet, but you can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Maybe you don’t want vinegar, and you want to douse the things in spices. Do it! Basil, oregano, and parsley are earthy herbs. Maybe you want a Mexican kick – give ’em some chili powder and cumin instead.
- The same goes for chicken – season with whatever you like, use marinated meat, or – gasp – change up your meat altogether! Pork loin? Yummm!
- Going vegetarian? I’ve heard roasted tofu is DELICIOUS! Or, make a cold bean salad to go along with your roasted veggies!
- This recipe is gluten free, but watch for variations – some flavored vinegars may be made from malt, which you should avoid on a gluten free diet.
Which veggies and flavors would you want to use for this recipe?