Quick & Easy Italian Chicken

Chicken Parmigiano is one of my favourite chicken dishes and the rest of the family like it too. However, it takes a bit of preparation and while it’s not complicated it doesn’t fall into the quick and easy category.

This recipe is similar, but without the tomato sauce and it can be prepared in a jiffy. Serve with a salad and crusty bread or rice. A real crowd pleaser which is easy to double.

4 or 5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup olive oil
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Oregano
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp crushed chilli (optional)
½ tsp salt
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs or home-made stale breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan, extra
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
3 Tbs melted butter (optional)

Place the olive oil, lemon juice and rind, oregano, garlic, Parmesan, chilli and salt in a large rectangular lasagne-type dish and mix well. Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally so you end up with 8-10 thinner pieces. Place them in the dish, one by one, turning them to coat them evenly with the oil mixture, then arranging them to cover the whole dish.

Mix the breadcrumbs, extra Parmesan, parsley and melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the chicken. You can leave out the butter if preferred. Bake for about 30 mins at 180°C or until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve with a green salad or a tomato, red onion and basil salad dressed with a simple olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing and crusty bread or rice, or both.

Serves 6

Note: crushed chilli is sold in jars in most supermarkets

Aleppo Pepper & Honey Chicken

According to Wikipedia, Aleppo pepper is a variety of capsicum used as a spice, particularly in Turkish, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Also known as Halaby pepper, its pods are ripened, semi-dried, de-seeded and crushed.

I’ve been seeing quite a few recipes which call for this spice and realised it was one which, believe it or not, I didn’t have in my collection. It’s not sold in Australia in your average supermarket selection, but I found it at The Essential Ingredient.

If you look at images online you will see that Aleppo Pepper varies in colour from bright red through to a dark brownish red. I suggest you buy a bright red one, as the colour is a big part of the appeal of this spice. The flavour is somewhere between a spicy, tangy pepper and a very subtle chilli.

This recipe can be halved or doubled. If preferred, you can use chicken breasts or bone-in pieces, such as wings or drumsticks, instead of boned thighs, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. I prefer to use thighs as chicken breasts tend to be a bit dry.

This recipe is easy and absolutely delicious, with a subtle pepperiness and a very attractive colour. You will want to make it again. Perfect for a weekend BBQ, but it can also be cooked in the oven.

1 kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
2 Tbs Aleppo pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley
To serve:

Lime wedges

Trim chicken pieces of any excess fat. Place in bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix well, then leave to marinate for at least half an hour or overnight if that suits you.

Cook the drained chicken in a preheated oven 200°C for 20-30 minutes or on a BBQ – preferably a charcoal grill. If cooking in the oven, cook in a single layer and you may want to line the baking sheet with baking paper which comes up the sides a bit, to make the washing up easier. Burnt honey is always a pain to clean!

Garnish with lime wedges to serve.

Serves 6-8


Chicken with Spinach, Pine Nuts and Raisins

We have six perpetual spinach plants in the garden. It’s a great leafy vegetable to grow because you just break off the leaves as you need them and it keeps on growing.

Ours are in a raised bed which we can cover at night in the cooler months, like a greenhouse, so the plants don’t get damaged by frost.

This is a healthy, quick and easy dinner for two, but easily doubled for four. If liked serve with rice, potatoes or Israeli pearl couscous

1 large or two small chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Herbs or spices of choice (paprika, thyme etc)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 bunch spinach, washed, stalks removed
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbs pine nuts
2 Tbs sultanas or raisins
Balsamic glaze

Cut chicken into six or eight lengthwise fat fingers. Season with salt and pepper and a good pinch of any spices or herbs you fancy. Last time I added a good pinch of curry powder. Place sultanas in a small bowl, cover with hot water, leave 3 minutes, then drain.

Pour boiling water over the spinach and leave for 2 minutes. Drain, squeeze out all the water and if spinach has large leaves, chop roughly. If using baby spinach, no need. Leave in a sieve to continue draining while you cook the chicken.

Heat 1 Tbs oil in a frying pan and cook chicken on both sides for 8-10 minutes, turning a couple of times, until cooked through. When chicken is cooked, remove from the pan. To the pan add the second Tbs of oil – you might not need it – spinach, garlic, pine nuts and sultanas or raisins. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes then season to taste.

Divide spinach among two serving plates. Top with chicken, then garnish with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Serves 2

Chicken with Israeli Couscous and Citrus Marmalade

I know chicken with marmalade sounds a bit weird, but think duck with orange.

Choose a tart chunky marmalade such as Seville Orange, Grapefruit or similar. I used a home-made Cumquat and Ginger marmalade. If you’ve never cooked Israeli Couscous, also known as Pearl Couscous, it’s just bigger than normal couscous. It makes a nice change from rice.

1 very large or 2 smaller chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup Israeli (Pearl) couscous
2 Tbs chopped parsley
A knob of butter or 1 Tbs olive oil
2-3 Tbs chunky citrus marmalade

Pat chicken dry and season to taste. Flatten out a bit if it’s very thick in some parts. Heat oil in a frying pan and cook chicken for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway, or until cooked through. Remove from the pan and slice downwards. Meanwhile while chicken is cooking, cook the couscous in boiling salted water for 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain well then add the parsley, butter or oil and season to taste.

Divide couscous between two serving plates. Top with the chicken slices and the marmalade.

Serves 2


Sticky Spicy Chicken

This is a quick and easy mid-week recipe for two which is easily doubled for four. Serve it on a bed of steamed rice or home-grown rocket. Or why not both.

The rocket we grow in the garden has large leaves and, compared with the rocket you buy, which tends to be thin with tough stalks, it’s very tender, as you can see in the photo.

I make my own salad dressings, with one exception. If you can find Kewpie Japanese Roasted Sesame Dressing in your supermarket, I highly recommend you try it. It comes in a 210 ml bottle, although in Costco I’ve seen it in a one litre bottle.

2 chicken breasts (or 3-4 boneless, skinless thighs)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs Harissa (or another chilli paste or sauce, such as sriracha)
1 Tbs runny honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve:
4-5 handfuls rocket
Salad dressing of your choice (see above)
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 Tbs pistachio nuts or pine nuts

Cut chicken breasts into four or five lengthwise fillets. If using thighs, trim and cut into chunks.

Heat oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden but not quite cooked through. Mix the Harissa, honey, cinnamon and garlic and add to the pan. Continue to cook the chicken for a few minutes, turning regularly until the sauce has virtually disappeared and the chicken is nicely glazed.

Toast sesame seeds and nuts in a dry frying pan until lightly coloured.

Dress the rocket and arrange on two serving plates. Top with the chicken and any remaining sauce and garnish with the seeds and nuts.

Serves 2

Chicken and Zucchini Burgers

I made these tasty little burgers – rissoles, patties, frikadelle or whatever you like to call them – in the Air Fryer. If you don’t have one, cook them in a frying pan in a tiny bit of oil.

This is a good way to get kids to eat more vegetables as they probably won’t notice the grated zucchini in the mix.

To add a bit more zing add some chopped ham, salami or bacon. The sauce is optional.

500g chicken mince
1 large or 2 small zucchini (courgettes)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1-2 Tbs finely chopped fresh tarragon (optional) or parsley
1 egg
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbs mayonnaise
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp honey

Grate the zucchini coarsely then mix with the rest of the ingredients. Form into patties – I made 10 but you could make less by making them larger.

Spray with cooking oil on both sides, then cook in an Air Fryer at 180°C for 20-25 minutes, turning once. Or fry in a little oil in a frying pan on both sides. Garnish with chives.

Sauce: mix ingredients together and serve with the burgers.

Serve with a salad or coleslaw. I made a coleslaw with shredded cabbage, grated carrot, pine nuts, sultanas and a little shredded red onion, with a dressing of mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice.

Serves 4


Chicken with New Potatoes, Bacon and Herbs

This recipe is quick to prepare and good when you only have one chicken breast to feed two people.

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large chicken breast or equivalent in tenderloin pieces
200-300g new potatoes
100g chunky bacon, speck or lardons, cut into small thick pieces
1 red onion, halved, then cut into wedges
3 Tbs fresh oregano or marjoram, roughly chopped
A few fresh herbs to garnish

Cut chicken into chunks about 2.5cm (one inch) square. Scrub potatoes, cut into quarters, then cook in boiling salted water. When cooked drain well.

Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook bacon and onion, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and potatoes and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes over moderate heat, turning the chicken pieces and the potatoes so they brown evenly. Lastly add the herbs and season to taste. Save a few fresh herbs to garnish.

Serves 2

Chicken Fajitas

I’ve been writing this blog since 2011 and this is the first Mexican dish. Fajitas make a quick and easy mid-week dinner which even some fussy kids might enjoy.

It’s a good option for those trying to cut down on carbs, so I had mine without the tortilla, Serving with tortillas makes it go further, so double the recipe will serve a family of six.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, sliced or cut in wedges
1 red or yellow capsicum, or half of each, sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ lime, juiced
1 tsp each chilli powder, ground cumin and garlic powder
½ tsp each paprika, oregano and salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To serve:
Tortillas, warmed
Sour cream
1 avocado, sliced

Mix seasoning in a bowl. Trim chicken breasts and cut each into 3 or 4 thick lengthwise strips. Add to the bowl of seasoning and mix to coat well.

In a large frying pan, heat half the oil, add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and add the other tablespoonful of oil with the onion and pepper strips. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until cooked and starting to brown. Slice chicken and return to the pan. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then drizzle with the lime juice. Serve with tortillas, sour cream, avocado and coriander.

Serves 2-3

Chicken Chow Mein

Back in the 1980s I bought a copy of the Women’s Weekly’s Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook and worked my way through it. I was a young mother of three kids at the time and my only experience with Chinese food prior to that was buying takeaway.

I still have that book, dog eared and spattered from many years of use, with comments and amendments jotted here and there. The recipe for Chicken Chow Mein is served on a bed of crispy fried noodles and includes pork. I’ve adapted it to use the precooked Asian noodles sold in most supermarkets these days – preferably Chow Mein, but Hokkien or Singapore noodles will do – as they are healthier than anything deep fried. I also leave out the pork and just use chicken and prawns.

450g lean chicken meat, cut into thin strips
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
1 tsp cornflour
450g ready to serve egg noodles (Chow Mein, Hokkien or Singapore)
4 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
350g peeled uncooked prawns, deveined
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red capsicum (pepper), cut into thin slices
1 large carrot, cut into julienne strips
2 sticks celery, thinly sliced diagonally
¼ white cabbage, shredded
8 spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup water
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 chicken stock cubes (about 2 tsp stock powder)
1 Tbs Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
1 Tbs sesame oil
2 tsp sugar

Mix chicken with soy sauce, dry sherry and cornflour. Stand for one hour while you prepare the vegetables. Pour boiling water over the noodles, stand for a few minutes, then drain.

In a wok or very large frying pan heat the oil and cook the ginger and garlic for one minute. Increase the heat and add the chicken and stir-fry for five minutes. Add the prawns, toss for a couple of minutes, then add all the vegetables (save a few spring onions for garnish) and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the combined sauce ingredients and lastly the drained noodles. Toss for a couple of minutes, then serve garnished with the reserved spring onions. Serve with extra soy sauce or sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) drizzled on top, if liked. And if you’re wondering what you can see sprinkled on the front of the dish, it’s a good pinch of crushed chillies.

Serves 4

Quick Bang Bang Chicken Salad

The name Bang Bang is derived from the way the chicken is tenderised before cooking this recipe. Not something you have to worry about in this version. No doubt the original recipe also had you chasing the chook around the backyard and catching it, before you got to the bang bang bit.

After catching and tenderising your chicken, a traditional Sichuan recipe for Bang Bang Chicken Salad starts with cooking it whole. This is the quick version where instead you head to the supermarket. Perfect for those days when you have limited time to organise something tasty for dinner.

Buy a cooked chicken at the supermarket – actually I bought a half – then grab some beansprouts, cucumber, baby spinach, coriander and a lime. Hopefully you have all the ingredients for the dressing in your pantry.

½ a roast chicken (more or less)
2-3 cups beansprouts
2 spring onions, finely sliced (optional)
2 Tbs sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 Tbs Tahini paste
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbs vinegar (Chinese black if available, if not any will do)
4 Tbs vegetable oil
Pinch chilli flakes
To garnish:
3-4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
A handful of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
2 Tbs roasted peanuts or cashews, coarsely chopped
Good pinch chilli flakes or some fresh finely diced chilli

Shred the chicken and place in a bowl with the beansprouts and spring onions (if using). Whiz all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor or blender. Add the dressing to the chicken – you may not need to use it all.

Line a serving dish with spinach leaves. Pile the chicken salad on top, then garnish with the coriander, cucumber, nuts, chilli and a piece of fresh lime. As you can see in the photo, I forgot the lime!

Serves 3 (more as part of a buffet)