The Olive Chicken Recipe That Restored My Faith in Cooking

I like my home-cooked meals to be simple: baked chicken breast with herbes de Provence scattered on top, an uncomplicated pasta pomodoro, a roasted cod drenched in salt, lemon, olive oil and some pepper. The fewer the ingredients, the more appealing the recipe. 

Don’t get me wrong: My palate appreciates a decadently prepared dish bursting with flavors and aromas. But when I’m the chef, I’m perennially drawn to recipes that leave no room for mistakes and require minimal time — in terms of both preparation and post-meal cleanup. At home, ingredients should be used at their most elemental, without having to resort to an endless rack of additives.

Chanie Apfelbaum's olive chicken. (Photo: Chanie Apfelbaum)
Chanie Apfelbaum’s olive chicken. (Photo: Chanie Apfelbaum)

In contrast, my husband Perry believes that each meal should be an experience, a chance to try something new. He loves his food to be flamboyant and flavorfully eclectic, drowning in spices, sauces and all-around thickness. He has the patience to braise and boil and baste for hours, eventually enjoying the fruits of his labor without worrying about the time it will take him to clean the countless pots and pans needed to prepare a single dish.

Of course, that difference in philosophy, albeit exciting in life, has come to be a bit of a drawback within the confines of our shared kitchen. When I make dinner, he eats it with a smile on his face after adding a lot of pepper flakes to everything. When he cooks, I eat with a smile on my face while my eyes spiral backward because of overpowering flavors wrestling inside my mouth.

That all took a surprising turn a few months ago, when we stumbled upon a recipe that caters to both of our culinary demands, checking off Perry’s need for intensity and my own desire for simplicity. 

The olive chicken recipe we found requires a single baking dish and a handful of easy-to-access ingredients that happen to pack a punch in terms of seasoning. Developed by Chanie Apfelbaum for her “Millennial Kosher” cookbook, the recipe stands out because of its straightforwardness, yet earned a spot in our regular dinner rotation because of its long-lasting taste profile. Bonus points: it’s easily customizable, which seems to be the chef’s forte. 

Apfelbaum is behind the popular blog and Instagram handle Busy in Brooklyn, where she chronicles her life in Crown Heights with five kids. All of her recipes are reinventions of traditional Jewish foods, aimed to cater to a curious palate while following kosher dietary laws.

“I do it so many different ways,” Apfelbaum said about the olive chicken. “I put chickpeas in a pan and it’ll be a one-pot thing.”

Although she initially came up with the recipe as a way to satisfy her daughter’s love for olives, Apfelbaum eventually came to think of it as a close cousin to pizza-like dishes. With that in mind, she now prepares the dish as she would a vegetable slice.

“I wouldn’t put cheese on it because I’m kosher,” she explains, calling out religious restrictions against the concurrent consumption of dairy and meat. “But think of how you would order your vegetable slice from the store: Do you like spinach and artichoke? Do you like mushroom slices? Customize it with whatever veggies you like, or whatever you have in your fridge. It’s totally your call.”

In our own household, that personalization takes the form of a ton of mushrooms in addition to the herbs and dark meat chicken that the recipe calls for. The result? A peaceful matrimonial meal enjoyed and appreciated by all.

Olive Chicken

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces tomato paste (heaping 1/4 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 6 dark meat chicken cutlets

  • Salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste

  • 1/2 sliced green olives with pimentos, sliced

  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives, sliced

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, options

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste with oregano and basil. Smear the paste over the chicken; place chicken into a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Spread sliced olives over the chicken; top with diced tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired. Drizzle with olive oil.

4. Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Reproduced from “Millennial Kosher” by Chanie Apfelbaum with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

Related…

7 Foods To Avoid Buying Amid The Coronavirus Outbreak Due To Others’ Health Needs

The 10 Most Popular Instagram Recipes From April 2020

Easy Cheesecake Recipes To Try At Home

Also on HuffPost

A Surprising Way To The Holy Grail Of Chicken

Maple syrup is the secret weapon for getting crispy-skinned roast chicken in this recipe from Gena Knox's <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Southern-My-Way-Food-Family/dp/0615836410" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Southern My Way: Food & Family" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Southern My Way: Food & Family</a></em> cookbook. You mix the sweetener with chopped pecans and some apple cider vinegar, and brush it onto the chicken for the last 25 minutes of cooking; the sugars help the meat develop a beautiful, crunchy exterior. <br><br> <strong>Get the recipe: <a href="https://www.oprah.com/food/Maple-Pecan-Glazed-Chicken-Recipe" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Maple Pecan-Glazed Chicken" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Maple Pecan-Glazed Chicken</a></strong>
Maple syrup is the secret weapon for getting crispy-skinned roast chicken in this recipe from Gena Knox’s Southern My Way: Food & Family cookbook. You mix the sweetener with chopped pecans and some apple cider vinegar, and brush it onto the chicken for the last 25 minutes of cooking; the sugars help the meat develop a beautiful, crunchy exterior.

Get the recipe: Maple Pecan-Glazed Chicken

A Go-To Bird For All Seasons

Knox has a terrific way to jazz up grilled (or grill-panned) chicken, and it only requires four simple ingredients: olive oil, garlic, cumin and lime juice. The vibrant flavors give the dish a warm-weather feel no matter what time of year you're eating it. To complete the meal, try it with a simple avocado and tomato salad, or black beans and rice. <br><br> <strong>Get the recipe: <a href="https://www.oprah.com/food/Lime-Grilled-Chicken-Recipe" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Lime Grilled Chicken" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Lime Grilled Chicken</a></strong>
Knox has a terrific way to jazz up grilled (or grill-panned) chicken, and it only requires four simple ingredients: olive oil, garlic, cumin and lime juice. The vibrant flavors give the dish a warm-weather feel no matter what time of year you’re eating it. To complete the meal, try it with a simple avocado and tomato salad, or black beans and rice.

Get the recipe: Lime Grilled Chicken

A Fantastic Use for Croutons (That’s Not Salad)

Toasted baguette cubes can take a Caesar salad from good to great, and it turns out they can also work their magic in a one-pan chicken-and-vegetables dish, as Kelsey Nixon shows in her cookbook <em><a href="https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kitchen-confidence-kelsey-nixon/1115292758" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kitchen Confidence" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kitchen Confidence</a></em>. The croutons add a subtle crunch to the dish, softening slightly as they soak up all the flavor from the meat and vegetables (you can use whatever's in season, from parsnips to sweet potatoes to carrots to sugar snap peas). <br><br> <strong>Get the recipe: <a href="https://www.oprah.com/food/Lemon-Scented-Chicken-Thighs-with-Crispy-Croutons-and-Carrots-Recipe" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Lemon-Scented Chicken Thighs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Lemon-Scented Chicken Thighs</a></strong>
Toasted baguette cubes can take a Caesar salad from good to great, and it turns out they can also work their magic in a one-pan chicken-and-vegetables dish, as Kelsey Nixon shows in her cookbook Kitchen Confidence. The croutons add a subtle crunch to the dish, softening slightly as they soak up all the flavor from the meat and vegetables (you can use whatever’s in season, from parsnips to sweet potatoes to carrots to sugar snap peas).

Get the recipe: Lemon-Scented Chicken Thighs

The Best Chicken Salad You’ve Never Had

 Put down the mayo and step away from the chopped celery: Chef Jody Williams has shown us a totally new (and amazing) way to make an American classic. The author of <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Buvette-The-Pleasure-Good-Food/dp/1455525529" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food</a></em> lays torn pieces of a still-warm roasted chicken (use a rotisserie one if you like) atop a bed of salad greens, boiled potatoes and haricots verts. Everything gets drizzled with a Dijon vinaigrette, and you've got a dish that feels light enough for lunch yet substantial enough for dinner. <br><br> <strong>Get the recipe: <a href="https://www.oprah.com/food/Roast-Chicken-Salad-and-Haricots-Verts-with-Mustard-Vinaigrette-Recipe" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Roast Chicken Salad and Haricots Verts with Mustard Vinaigrette" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Roast Chicken Salad and Haricots Verts with Mustard Vinaigrette</a></strong>
Put down the mayo and step away from the chopped celery: Chef Jody Williams has shown us a totally new (and amazing) way to make an American classic. The author of Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food lays torn pieces of a still-warm roasted chicken (use a rotisserie one if you like) atop a bed of salad greens, boiled potatoes and haricots verts. Everything gets drizzled with a Dijon vinaigrette, and you’ve got a dish that feels light enough for lunch yet substantial enough for dinner.

Get the recipe: Roast Chicken Salad and Haricots Verts with Mustard Vinaigrette

The Throw-It-in-a-Pan-and-Forget-About-It Chicken

This dish came about out of necessity, improvised with items <em><a href="https://www.sweetpaulmag.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sweet Paul" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sweet Paul</a> </em>magazine creator Paul Lowe had on hand when some unexpected guests showed up. As Lowe explains in his book, <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Paul-Eat-Make-Charming/dp/0544133331/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sweet Paul Eat & Make" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sweet Paul Eat & Make</a></em>, you simply lay chicken thighs in a baking dish; scatter lemon wedges, olives and capers over the top; pour lemon juice and olive oil over the chicken; and, bake for 25 minutes. The lemon juice makes the chicken tender and the capers and olives mix with the juices to create a tasty sauce. <br><br> <strong>Get the recipe: <a href="https://www.oprah.com/food/Chicken-with-Olives-and-Capers-Recipe" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Chicken with Olives and Capers" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Chicken with Olives and Capers</a></strong>
This dish came about out of necessity, improvised with items Sweet Paul magazine creator Paul Lowe had on hand when some unexpected guests showed up. As Lowe explains in his book, Sweet Paul Eat & Make, you simply lay chicken thighs in a baking dish; scatter lemon wedges, olives and capers over the top; pour lemon juice and olive oil over the chicken; and, bake for 25 minutes. The lemon juice makes the chicken tender and the capers and olives mix with the juices to create a tasty sauce.

Get the recipe: Chicken with Olives and Capers

Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.