Despite being a farmer’s wife and self-proclaimed ‘foodie,’ I often take for granted what goes in to cultivating produce.
Growing up, my dad was a master gardener whose bounty too often landed on unappreciative plates. I remember a particular abhorrence to squash and tomatoes, foods I now eat with relish. It seemed unfair my plate was being loaded with Dad’s freshly-picked fruits and vegetables when what I really wanted was a Happy Meal.
Funny how time changes your perspective, isn’t it?
Now that I have more limited access to Dad’s garden, I have tried for the past few years to replicate what I took for granted in my youth. I have made grand plans for a sprawling garden that would be lovingly weeded and tended every day after work. Each summer, Dad dutifully stops at the farm with his tiller and helps me plant my carefully-selected varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. He never mentions my previous failed attempts at gardening or suggests that I might be biting off more than I can chew.
I wish I could say this was the year my garden finally thrived. Oh, how I wish that was the case.
Just a few weeks ago, after a month of neglect, my gardening partner Chelsa and I discovered that the weeds had overtaken the plants. It was a jungle out there, and as we tried to salvage the plants (which had somehow survived underneath the mess of velvetleaf and lambsquarter), we couldn’t help but sit among the weeds and laugh at our ignorance.
Gardening is hard. Admitting my lack of a green thumb is even harder. But I haven’t given up hope yet. There’s no better taste in the world than eating fresh-from-the-garden produce, and I’m determined to conquer these pesky weeds yet.
To that end, I’d like to share a recipe for roasted chicken with asparagus and grape tomatoes. I hope that if you’ve had success in growing tomatoes this summer, you consider using your precious produce for this easy and healthy meal. To me, this dish shines because of its simple, fresh flavors. I don’t deny that I love that it can all be prepared in one skillet, making clean-up a snap. Because in the summer, who has the time to do dishes?
I certainly don’t. I’ve got a garden to tend.
Roasted Chicken with Asparagus
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, plus more for serving
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken well with salt and pepper. In batches, cook the chicken, skin-side down first, until both sides are browned and crisp, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
To the skillet, add the asparagus, tomatoes and thyme. Top with chicken and roast in the oven uncovered until cooked through (20-25 minutes). Serve sprinkled with thyme.
Source: Modified slightly from Real Simple via http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/roasted-chicken-asparagus-00100000078535/index.html