I am a huge lemon fan; love its refreshing, tangy flavor and lemon is a welcome addition to most of the dishes I enjoy. My dear friend Hande knows my soft spot for lemons and she made us a delicious chicken course using this lemon pepper blend while we stayed with them in Houston. It was my first time to try this blend and I greatly enjoyed it.
Lemon pepper blend consists of good sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, lemon peel, garlic and onion. It is wonderful on fish and equally as good on chicken, turkey and vegetables. The spice store Penzeys have it; alternatively, you can also make your own.
Hande kindly gave me some extra lemon pepper seasoning and we recently made this delicious baked chicken with summer vegetables. Runner beans, or string beans or taze fasulye are in season until about October and they are delicious in this dish. Peppers, zucchini, tomato all worked well here with the tangy lemon pepper. I also added some cooked chickpeas here, as commonly used in Southern Turkish cooking, like in this stuffed zucchini/courgettes with ground meat, tomatoes, onions and chickpeas recipe. It turned out to be a wholesome, delicious meal, (late) summer on a plate. An easy, wonderful casserole you can prepare ahead of time and leftovers freeze very well.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4
Preparation time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes
450 gr./1lb chicken breast, cut into small chunks
175gr/6oz. runner beans (or string beans)
2 small zucchini (courgette), cut in half and sliced
2 onions, chopped coarsely
4-6 garlic cloves, diced
3 small bell peppers (green, yellow and red), deseeded and cut into chunks
400gr/14oz. -1 can of chopped tomatoes
400gr/14oz; 1 can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
240ml/8 fl. oz. /1 cup water
To marinate the chicken:
Juice of 1 lemon
15ml/1 tbsp. lemon pepper seasoning (*)
15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
(*) To make your own lemon pepper seasoning:
Zest of 1 lemon
10ml/ 2 tsp. sea salt (you can have if you prefer)
5ml/1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Turkish red pepper flakes/ Pul Biber
To make your own lemon pepper; combine the lemon zest with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, ready to season the chicken (I didn’t add garlic and onion to this blend, as I used plenty onions and garlic at the chicken bake).
In a bowl, combine the lemon pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and rub this mixture to the chicken pieces, mix well. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or so that the flavors can blend.
While the chicken is marinating, prepare your vegetables. Top and tail the beans and pull away any strings and cut into 3-4 pieces. I also like to cut them in half into thin strips. Combine the rest of the vegetables in a baking dish, stir in the olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Place the marinated chicken in a heavy pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes to seal their juice. Turn the heat off.
Stir in the sautéed chicken to the vegetables mix and add the chopped tomatoes and water. Give them all a good mix. Bake in the pre-heated oven, uncovered for about 35 minutes.
About 35 minutes later, stir in the rinsed, cooked chickpeas to the mixture, combine well. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the chicken and vegetables starting to turn nicely golden brown on top.
If you like a little heat like we do, sprinkle some Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber on the finished dish, just before you serve.
You can serve your baked chicken with summer vegetables with plain rice and natural plain yoghurt aside. Cacik, the cucumber yoghurt dip with mint would also be a delicious accompaniment.
Recently, we also enjoyed this chicken and vegetables bake with the aromatic zahtar sprinkled over too. Za’atar is an exotic blend of herbs, spices and nuts, widely used in Southern Turkish as well as Middle Eastern cooking. At my home town, Antakya, zahtar blend is a rich mixture of dried zahter, sesame seeds, crushed cooked chickpeas, cumin, nigella seeds, sea salt, sumac and many more. It has a lovely, pungent, nutty taste and flavors salads, meat, and vegetables beautifully. Here is more information on zahtar and how to make your zahtar blend at home.