Recipe: Sheet Pan Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash
Eating nutritious food doesn’t have to be dull. Exploring other cuisines can be a great way to stave off food boredom. This recipe is a spin on Moroccan cuisine which is best known for its focus on animal protein combined with dried fruit, spices, and olive oil.
Olive oil has grown in popularity over the past several years and for good reason. This type of oil is rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants such as vitamin E. It’s also rich in vitamin K, a nutrient vital for blood clotting and bone health. If you’ve ever wondered why olive oil is stored in dark green/tinted bottles, it’s to protect the antioxidants from damaging light. There are multiple types of olive oil, but extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) comes only from pressed olives whereas other versions have undergone varying amounts of processing. This is why EVOO is typically more expensive and the recommended, higher quality choice of olive oil.
Consider expanding your palate this year, beginning with Moroccan cuisine. And once you start, there are plenty more to explore!
Sheet Pan Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 2 large onions
- 1 ½ C mixed dried fruit (such as dates, apricots, figs, and/or cherries)
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 2 Tbsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice (approximately ½ lemon)
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, separated
- 4 tsp minced garlic from jar (or 8 garlic cloves, minced), separated
- 6 chicken leg quarters (drumstick and thigh)
- Fresh mint leaves
- Pomegranate seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon, then cut into 2 inch cubes. Peel the onions, cut them in half, then slice each half into 4 quarters (1/2 inch wedges).
- Place dried fruit in a bowl and add enough hot water to cover fruit. Soak for 10 minutes to rehydrate fruit while working on preparing the rest of the dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, parsley, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, ginger, and salt.
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, 2 tsp minced garlic, 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and 3 Tbsp of the spice mixture. Add chicken pieces and toss, rubbing the chicken to coat each piece well. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, on one half of a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- In the same bowl that held the chicken, combine the remaining 2 tsp garlic, 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and spice blend. Add the butternut squash and onion, and toss until evenly coated. Arrange the vegetable mixture in a single layer on the other half of the baking sheet, next to the chicken. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Next, drain the water from the bowl of fruit.
- Roast the chicken and vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the fruit around the baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue to roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken leg registers 165 F and the butternut squash is tender, about 25 more minutes.
- To serve, place the roasted vegetables and fruit on serving plates and top each with a piece of chicken and optional garnish.
- For the chicken leg quarters: chicken breasts or thighs (cooking time may vary)
- For the butternut squash: acorn squash, delicata squash, sweet potatoes, or white potatoes
- For the mint: fresh basil or parsley, chopped
- For the pomegranates: red grapes, quartered
Recipe modified from: Eat What You Love: Everyday Comfort Food You Crave