Before kids, "30-minute-meals" were my thing. If I could come home from work and put together a good dinner from start to finish in less than a half hour, that recipe was a keeper. I thought I'd stick with a lot of those dishes once I had kids, but I've realized that as a stay-at-home mom, 30-minute-meals just don't work for me. You know why?
They require uninterrupted time. I'm still a fan of quick recipes, but most of the time, they involve standing in the kitchen without little hands clawing at your legs or wanting to touch the knobs on the stove. Or, while one dish is in the oven, you need to be prepping a sauce or side to go with it. Sometimes it feels like a recipe uses 47 different bowls and utensils - and who wants more dishes to wash? Uninterrupted time, especially in the evening "witching hour" doesn't happen quite as often as it used to.
Instead, my obsession lately has been marinades. At least once, if not 2-3 times a week, we eat a meal that involves a meat soaked in a simple marinade. (And, full disclosure, I use store-bought marinades at least once a week! I like Tessemae's since they have quite a few that are Whole30 approved.) While it does take a little planning, I can make the marinade during nap-time rather than scrambling at 5pm. I usually end up cutting vegetables or doing other prep work early in the day, too, so come evening, it's just a matter of throwing a pan in the oven.
This recipe works perfectly with our family schedule. Make the marinade in advance (even the day before), and then let the chicken soak up all that flavor for at least a half hour. Toss everything together on a baking sheet and roast. You can even use a zip-top bag for marinating and discard it right in the trash when your done. Fewer dishes for the win!
Of course, if making everything all in one shot still works best for your schedule, you can still cook this meal in less than an hour, most of that being inactive time (marinating and roasting time). I served this with a simple arugula salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette for a healthy (Whole30 approved!), flavorful weeknight dinner.
Do you like to cook everything all at once? Or do you prefer meals that can be partially (or completely) prepped in advance? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fennel + Grapes
Yields 4 servings
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard (try Tessemae's for a W30 approved version)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 fennel bulb, stalks and fronds removed
1 pound seedless red grapes
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
In a small bowl*, make the marinade by whisking together ¼ cup olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, thyme, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Add the chicken to a gallon-sized zip-top bag, and pour the marinade over the chicken. Seal the bag, and shake it a few times so the chicken gets thoroughly coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom, and then cut out the core of the bulb. Slice the fennel crosswise into ¼-½ inch thick slices. (For tips on how to cut fennel, check out this helpful video from Martha Stewart.)
Add the fennel slices and grapes to a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Give everything a quick toss. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the baking sheet. Discard the used marinade.
Place the baking sheet on a middle rack in the oven, and roast for 22-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. The chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Remove from the oven, cover and let rest for a couple minutes. Transfer to a serving platter or plates. Serve with additional fresh thyme and the pan juices. Enjoy!
*Quick Tip: To use fewer dishes, make the marinade directly in the zip-top bag. Add the marinade ingredients to the bag, seal and shake well. Then, add the chicken, seal the bag, give it another shake, and marinate as directed above.