WINTER ROASTED RATATOUILLE WITH PROVENÇAL CHICKEN

By: Anna Olson

Herbs such as thyme and oregano add depth without being singly overwhelming, and the cold weather richness in vegetables like sweet potato and parsnip are balanced harmoniously with eggplant and tomato typical of ratatouille. A little bit of lemon lightens up this appetizer to make it an interesting research project against light-bodied reds.

Ratatouille

1 cup (250 mL) peeled and diced sweet potato
1 cup (250 mL) peeled and diced parsnip
1 cup (250 mL) peeled and diced celery root
1 cup (250 mL) diced eggplant
1 cup (250 mL) diced zucchini
1½ cups (375 mL) diced tomato
3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
¼ cup (50 mL) chopped, pitted kalamata olives

Chicken

¼ cup (50 mL) diced onion
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh rosemary
4 tbsp (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
Salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. To make ratatouille, toss vegetables and tomato with olive oil, thyme, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper in a baking dish. Bake covered for 10 minutes, then remove cover and bake about 20 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are fork-tender. Stir in lemon juice, olives and season to taste. Cover to keep warm.

3. To make chicken, keep oven at 375°F (190°C). Purée onion, herbs, 2 tbsp (25 mL) oil, lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper in a food processor. Heat an ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat and add remaining 2 tbsp (25 mL) oil. Add chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes to brown. Turn chicken over to cook 2 minutes more. Spread onion-herb mixture over chicken and place pan in oven to cook chicken completely, about 15 minutes. 

4. To serve, place a spoonful of Winter Ratatouille in centre of plate. Slice each chicken breast into 6 slices, fanning around vegetables. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon excess onion-herb mixture over chicken and serve.

Serves 8 as an appetizer and 4 as a main course