Updated: Sep 12, 2021
We have entered back-to-school mode at our house! Whether your kids are face to face or distance learning, I think most of us are settling back into a scheduled routine at home and certainly in the kitchen. When it comes to weeknight cooking, I seek out meals that can be prepped ahead, are family friendly, cook quickly and clean up easily. This sheet pan stunner fits the back-to-school equation perfectly!
I adore a good sheet pan meal, or a “tray bake” as the Brits call them. This is one the simplest ways to get a nutritious, hearty and tasty dinner on the table for my family in under an hour with minimal mess. I love to marinate the chicken and chop the veggies in the morning while the kids are in school- come dinner time, it’s just a matter of throwing everything on a big lined sheet pan and roasting the ingredients in the oven! Easy peasy!
I have had a jar of harissa paste beckoning to me every time I open fridge door- hence part of the inspiration for this recipe. For those of you who are unfamiliar with harissa, it’s a North African spice paste consisting of chiles, garlic and spices. It can range from mild to hot or red to green, and is generally available at most major grocery stores and specialty food marts these days thanks to a recent surge in trendiness (hello Shakshuka). You can also find it online.
For this recipe, I use mild Mina brand harissa paste to keep the heat level palatable for my kids. The resulting flavor of the dish is more smoky tasting than spicy, and the added honey helps curb any heat in the harissa. If you would like to up the spiciness, look for hot harissa! Every brand will be a little different- try doing a taste test prior to use to determine how much heat you can handle. If the fire alarm sounds, you will know you need to cut back. Also, if someone in the house doesn’t love cauliflower, try this with cubed yukon gold potatoes (or even sweet potatoes) in it’s place. I keep trying to convince my kids that cauliflower is “white broccoli” (they are big broc eaters) but so far they are still skeptical. It’s ok, they just got extra carrots!
The harissa honey butter drizzle at the end is SO easy to whip together and makes for the most divine sweet and savory effect! A flourish of fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon at the end add balanced freshness and acid to this gorgeous all in one chicken dinner. While this is a full meal on its own, I love serving the chicken and saucy vegetable chickpea mixture over rice or couscous. A little flatbread or pita on the side would be tasty as well! This Harissa Honey Chicken was scarfed down with enthusiasm by my hungry fam! Back to school cooking has never been more delish- hope you try this recipe soon!
prep time: 15 min. cook time: 45 min. serves: 4-6
1/4 cup mild harissa paste (use hot if you’d like a spicier version)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
2-1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus a little extra
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 to 2-1/2 lbs bone in, skin on chicken thighs (about 6 larger thighs or 8 smaller)
1/2 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 heaping cups)
1/2 large red onion or 1 small red onion, sliced 1/4” thick
2 large carrots, sliced on the diagonal into 1/4” coins
1-14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
HARISSA HONEY BUTTER
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
FOR SERVING chopped cilantro or parsley, flaky salt, and lemon wedges
Whisk together the harissa paste, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, honey, cumin, salt & pepper in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat on the marinade. Cover and let chill at least 30 min and up to 24 hrs.
Preheat the oven to 425° with a rack in the middle part of the oven. Line a large sheet pan with foil and then also with parchment paper for easy clean up (optional but why not?!). Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and arrange them skin side up on the sheet pan, reserving the marinade in the bottom of the bowl. Add the cauliflower, carrots, onion, and chickpeas to the bowl with the marinade. Toss them to coat in the marinade and then pour the vegetables around the chicken thighs in as even a layer as possible, pulling the thighs out from under the vegetables if they get covered so that the tops are exposed. Drizzle everything with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with more salt. Place in the oven to cook 30-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the thighs register 165° on a meat thermometer. If the thighs are getting too brown, loosely tent with foil
and continue cooking until they are done.
When the chicken thighs are cooked through, remove them to a platter to rest covered with foil. Give the vegetables and chickpeas a stir and return them to the oven to roast another 10-15 minutes, until they are tender and browned.
Meanwhile, make the harissa honey butter by combining all the ingredients in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave the ingredients on high for 45 seconds, or until the butter has melted and the sauce is hot. Whisk to combine and and set aside. Once the vegetables are done, remove the sheet pan from the oven and nestle the chicken thighs back on top. Drizzle everything lightly with the harissa honey butter, then sprinkle the herbs and some flaky salt over the top. Arrange lemon wedges around the sheet pan for squeezing over the chicken and veggies. Serve the extra harissa honey butter on the side for drizzling- promise it will go fast! Enjoy!