I always like to try to pair sides with mains that are complementary, but sometimes I hit on a combination completely by accident and it is amazing. This meal is now officially part of my meal rotation because these three things together made the perfect harmony and were all easy and budget friendly to prepare. I try to make my own dressing whenever possible, its easy and preservative free, plus it just tastes better.
The inspiration for this meal came from the fact that I need to finish a blog post that goes with the leftover chicken for this meal, and also because Hubby brought home a mystery squash from work. Yes, I said it, mystery squash. A coworker of his had some rather gorgeous winter squash grow out of her compost and wasn’t sure what variety it was. It was a lovely deep yellow with green stripes. I originally thought it was delicata, a variety of winter squash with edible skin, but after cutting into it I knew the skin was not edible. As it turns out, it was a tasty variety of spaghetti squash. Super yummy.
Turkish chicken is a recipe that I use from one of my favourite books, Simple by Diana Henry. It’s got some heat, a ton of flavour, and is just as the title of the book suggests: Simple to prepare. I often change it up with different spices, but I wanted to give you the original version just as it is. I use the leftovers from this for a variety of meals which you will see in future posts. She pairs it with a parsley salad that I didn’t really care for but can appreciate. Instead, I chose a tangy salad with a bit of sweetness to stand up to the warmth of the spice and the buttery-ness of the squash. My family dragged their chicken through the salad dressing to intesify the lemon and add some sweetness to the chicken and the result was divine. Sometimes they are the best tasters. They occasionally do things with my culinary masterpieces that horrify me… like add ketchup to goat cheese fritata (I’m crying inside thinking about it), but sometimes they are geniuses.
You Will Need:
For the Chicken
- 1/3 cup olive oil (don’t use extra virgin here, it will smoke a lot during the cooking process)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 1/2 tsp of Aleppo pepper or a tsp of cayenne (I reduced this to half a tsp of cayenne because I have tiny humans to feed and they cry when I burn their mouths)
- 4 garlic cloves crushed (I used minced garlic in oil here to save some time)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- lemon wedges to serve
For the Spaghetti Squash (or any winter variety that you prefer)
- 1 large spaghetti squash – sliced in half vertically with the seeds removed.
- 2 tbsp of brown sugar, not packed
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- salt and pepper
For the Salad
- 1 romaine heart, washed and chopped
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 1/2 cup of feta, crumbled
- 1 cup of cucumber, sliced
- 2 clementine oranges, peeled and segmented
For the Dressing
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp honey
The chicken needs to be marinated. The longer the better, but anywhere from 30min to 8 hours will get you a ton of flavour. For the marinade whisk the first 7 ingredients of the chicken in a bowl and pour into a large zippered freezer bag. Toss in the chicken and mix it around until it’s evenly covered and put in the fridge. Turn at least once while marinating.
Preheat the oven to 400F and place the squash cut side up on a sheet pan. I used a ceramic pan here, if you are using a traditional pan you may want to cover it with foil first. Brush the squash with melted butter, sprinkle brown sugar evenly and season with salt and pepper. Don’t worry, this doesn’t make the squash overly sweet, I don’t like candied squash, it’s just enough to highlight flavour and work with the other components of the meal.
Bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes until the squash is tender. I baste them with the butter halfway through and I always try to arrange it so that these are ready a few min before the chicken. They will benefit from some resting time and be easier to remove from the skin.
Meanwhile, heat a grill pan or a heavy pan on medium high heat. Pull the chicken out and shake to remove excess marinade (otherwise you will end up with a very smokey kitchen) and place on pan. Make sure to open up the thighs so they’re butterflied, otherwise you end up with burnt outsides and raw insides. Cook until beautifully seared and flip. About 4-6 min per side. If you start these 20 min into the squash cooking time you will have enough time to rest them for 10 min before serving.
While the chicken is resting toss the ingredients of the salad together. In a small empty jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake vigorously until combined. Pour about 1/4 cup on the salad and toss until evenly coated. I put the remaining dressing on the table to flavor the meal if desired. (I accidentally spilled the remainder on my plate the first time I made this and it went well with everything!).