When we came back from holiday in January, we had all kinds of resolutions. As you do. The most important one was this: more home cooking – making our own meals from scratch – and healthier meals too. And prepping on Sundays for the week ahead so we didn’t lapse into buying lunches or skipping dinners. We’d been very set in our ways, cooking-wise, so we decided to find a completely new lot of recipes to change the way we eat.

 

This should be fairly simple, you’d think. There are millions of recipes on the internet. It’s actually surprisingly hard to find summer recipes right now when most of the internet is filled with Northern Hemisphere “winter warmer” recipes. And Googling things like “healthy” and “light” comes up with so many results, it’s hard to sieve through everything.

 

But we’re getting there. We’ve gotten a decent list of new options together and we’ll be going through them, keeping or discarding based on the outcome.

 

One of the first recipes we found was Jamie Oliver’s One Tray Bake Chicken. As seems to be Jamie’s style sometimes, there are no true measurements for this recipe. The list of ingredients states things like “a bunch of basil” and “a handful of tomatoes”. However, this has been one of the best recipes we have found thus far and I’ve already made it a number of times.

 

It’s tasty and still works as a defrosted lunch option, though the bread bits do not really stay crunchy. Check out Jamie’s recipe and then read my adjustments, and see what works for you.

 

I used bacon as pancetta is not as easy to come by, and more expensive. It unfortunately does not fit the “high-welfare” bill. But in subsequent versions, I left out the bacon completely and will keep doing so. It adds a lot of unnecessary salt and, though bacon is tasty AF, it’s not really required to maintain the deliciousness of the dish.

 

We’ve found that Jamie’s online recipes are sometimes a bit flawed with the timing. For example, this recipe states at the top that cooking time is 50 minutes but then indicates in the body of the recipe to cook for 60 minutes (3o on both sides) plus another 15 minutes for the bacon bit. This is also just far too long as the chicken, when you think of standard South African-sized pieces, will dry out. I’ve been cooking it for 25 minutes on one side, 15 – 20 minutes on the other side, and a grill time of max 7 minutes. I leave it to stand out of the oven for about 7 minutes, while prepping the table for dinner. That works quite nicely and the chicken is perfectly cooked.

 

My additions include lovely smoked paprika, which works exceptionally well with the chicken. We have used rye loaf instead of ciabatta each time but it’s a personal preference. Refined carbs are bad for me so rye or seed loaf is my go-to. We’d say chuck in even more olives and tomatoes for saucier vibes. Jamie’s recipe doesn’t state grilling but that’s quite a nice way to get everything browned and to make the bread bits crispy, when not using ciabatta. Watch the timing carefully though as your bread could easily blacken. My suggestion is don’t add salt, as per the recipe, since a lot of salt comes in via the olives and bacon already.

 

This is a one-tray vibe and you literally chuck everything in, mix it up and put it in the oven. It wins massive points for simplicity and for being a quick and easy prep. Before you know it, you’ve got dinner sorted (and maybe even a few lunches for the week if you bulk up the recipe). This “gooi it all in an oven tray and cook” thing has got to be my all-time favourite way of cooking lately. And the recipe is genuinely tasty and flavourful.