Weeknight dinners haven't, until now, meant much more to me than weekend-night dinners. What's so special or different about cooking on a Tuesday versus cooking on a Saturday? I've always wondered.
Then, 17 of quite possibly my most mentally challenging college units stepped in and answered that question in a jiffy. I now understand the feeling of coming home after 8 hours spent on campus - most of those in class, the remainder spent in the library (a horrible study location I'm attempting to force myself to love) - and wanting a simple, quick dinner that doesn't require more brain energy. Lately, even roasted sweet potatoes sound a bit more than my brain can handle. Oh, and I'm impatiently hungry at 5:30 PM nowadays. With a bedtime of 10 PM at the latest, I've adjusted to what seems like such an early dinner-time.
This sheet-pan recipe represents not only my version of a sort of weeknight meal-prep (because leftovers are almost always present when cooking for one), but also a head-over-heels-in-love marriage between the two foods groups to which I owe most of my GPA: plants and protein. I know, plants have protein, but I like a little more.
Complex diagrams of iron's transport through the digestive system and absorption into the body, long lists of brain regions and spinal nerves and sheep eyeball components, and studies on studies on studies of chromosomal inheritance patterns and blah blah blah (genetics is my least favorite class and I will never understand why I'm required to study it at such an in-depth level) use up all of my brain's glucose stores by the end of the day. Like, ALL. No survivors left behind to get creative in the kitchen for dinner. Heck, by the time Saturday comes around, I'm still replenishing my stores to be able to sit here and write this.
So, if my stories a) aren't interesting and/or b) don't tie together at the end, you know why.
Here, let me try to grab your attention again. These are some fun facts I retained from my classes this week! DID YOU KNOW:
- that it's possible for a chromosomal male to develop into a phenotypic (in other words - physically appearing) female? I didn't.
- that humans tend to have more sensory receptors on the face than on the leg or forearm? I didn't.
- that rats, unlike humans, produce a specific gene in their intestines that makes them less susceptible to cardiovascular issues than humans? I didn't.
Okay okay, here's the recipe.
Makes 4-5 servings
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed and lightly patted dry
~1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 small bunches of broccoli, chopped into florets
1 medium red onion, diced into 1" pieces
2 tbsp. oil (I prefer avocado or grapeseed for high-heat cooking)
1 tsp. ground cumin, plus extra for the chicken
1 tsp. garlic powder, plus extra for the chicken
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus extra for the chicken
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh parsley, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium-size bowl, toss the chickpeas with 1 tbsp. oil and 1/2 tsp. each of cumin and garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Add a pinch of sea salt and toss to coat.
- Spread the chickpeas in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
- While the chickpeas cook, toss the chopped broccoli and onion in the bowl with 1 tbsp. oil and 1/2 tsp. each of cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Add a pinch of sea salt and toss to coat.
- When the chickpeas are done, distribute the broccoli and onion evenly amongst the chickpeas and bake again for 10-12 minutes.
- While the veggies and chickpeas cook, prepare the chicken. Lay the thighs (or breasts) flat on a cutting board and simply lightly sprinkle a bit of each spice (cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and sea salt) over the top of each thigh or breast.
- When the veggies and chickpeas are done, lay the chicken over the top, spreading each thigh or breast about 2-3 inches from one another. Bake for another 12-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. You can turn the oven on to broil for 1-2 minutes at the end, if desired, for an extra crisp.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately with fresh parsley.