Sunday, 23 June 2013

Pesto Chicken and Potato Tray-Roast

I've been a bit down recently about the food that I'm cooking and eating with the family. This is due to a combination of being heinously busy at work, being unwell and unable to shake off a current infection, and just not having the energy or imagination to think of anything new (or the patience to deal with the noisy criticism of 3 small fussy people).

On Friday I said to my husband that I just wanted to sit and eat a grown up meal with him, and left him to deal with baths, tantrums and bedtimes. I wanted to create something with a range of tastes and textures, but minimal washing up. Jamie Oliver has always been very good at putting everything into one roasting tray and cooking the lot together, and that night, I drew some inspiration from him.

My heart says mozzarella for this recipe. However, my head told me that there were 4 blocks of halloumi also in the fridge (damn Costco and their free tasting), and the halloumi gave a pleasing crispy texture to the finished dish. I think the dish works with both - for something more soft, oily and comforting, go for the mozzarella. For something a bit sharper, crispier and more interesting, go for the halloumi.



  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 medium-sized waxy potatoes, peeled
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes - keep them on the vine if you like
  • 2-3 tablespoons of pesto sauce - you can see my recipe here
  • 2 dessert-spoons of pancetta cubes or sliced, streaky bacon
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • A handful of grated halloumi or mozzarella cheese
  • Ground black pepper to season
Serves 2



  • Place the chicken breasts facing down on a board, and if there isn't already one, slice a small "pocket" into each. Put the pancetta and basil leaves into the pockets, grind some black pepper over, and fold the pockets back over. Place in the middle of a roasting tray

Chicken breasts with pancetta and basil leaves
  • Slice the potatoes into 3mm thicknesses and scatter around the chicken breasts in the roasting tray. Add the cherry tomatoes
  • Spoon the pesto sauce over the chicken, potatoes and tomatoes, ensuring it is well spread over the mixture. Add the grated halloumi and grind over some black pepper

  • Place in the oven at 185 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove after the cooking is complete, and let stand for a couple of minutes

Halloumi gives a crisper, less oily texture to the finished dish
  •  Serve with some simple greens, such as broccoli, courgettes or beans

Pesto chicken and potato tray-roast

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