Freezer meals really get a bad rap, don’t you think? I don’t think it’s fair that some folks automatically assume freezer meals are mainly soups, casseroles and baked pasta dishes. In fact, I had so much fun looking at non-freezer meal recipes and converting them to freezer meals… and when it comes to enjoy them, they’re delicious and a far cry from mediocre tasting freezer meals some folks assume! One example is this recipe for Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables, Lemon & Capers. This dish is bursting with citrus flavor, thanks to the marinade the chicken and vegetables soak up…
Marinades are wonderful, freezer friendly ways to create a freezer meal. This recipe takes a zesty marinade of garlic and herbs that bathes chicken, asparagus, artichokes and tomatoes. For added zing, lemon slices and capers are thrown in the mix. Everything is baked, which is when all those ingredients really shine. I served this over steamed brown rice and a simple green salad.
Garlic & Herb Marinade:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
1 shallot , chopped
6 medium medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts , thawed and patted dry
1 pound asparagus (about 1 bunch), tough ends trimmed, cut in half
1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 12 ounces), stemmed and washed
1 cup capers , rinsed
1/2 lemon , sliced 1/4 inch thick, end piece discarded
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 pounds chicken legs and thighs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves (for serving)
For Marinade: Process all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 20 seconds. Transfer 1/4 cup of the marinade to an airtight container; set aside.
For Chicken: In a large zipper-lock bag, gently toss 2 more tablespoons of the marinade with the artichokes, asparagus, tomatoes, capers, lemon slices, salt, and pepper. Seal shut, gently toss to coat, and set aside.
In a second large zipper-lock bag, toss the chicken with the remaining marinade, coating the chicken thoroughly. Seal shut, toss to coat, and set aside.
To Store: Refrigerate the reserved marinade, vegetables, and chicken separately for up to 2 days, turning the bag of chicken occasionally to redistribute the marinade.
To Serve: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Transfer the vegetables to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and lay the chicken breasts on top, skin-side up. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, allow the reserved marinade to sit at room temperature to liquefy, then shake vigorously to recombine.
Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter. Pour the reserved marinade over the chicken, sprinkle with the chopped tarragon, and serve.
* To make ahead/freezer meal – Prepare the marinade as directed above and set aside 1/4 cup to use later. Place the artichokes, asparagus and tomatoes in an oven- and freezer-safe baking dish and lay the chicken breasts on top, skin-side up. Pour the remaining prepared marinade over the chicken and vegetables. Top with lemon slices and capers, season with salt & pepper as desired, then cover and freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost completely. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake uncovered until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees, about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter. Pour the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade over the chicken, sprinkle with the chopped tarragon, and serve.