This is a recipe for chicken thighs that I’ve been carrying in my head for at least 10 years. Hours of searching (online and off) have failed to discover original source – I suspect it was from one of those shiny recipe cards that always find their way into my supermarket trolley. Juicy chicken thighs filled with halloumi cheese and scented with sage, all served in a rich tomato sauce. It sounds decadent, but in fact the amount of cheese is small and hidden within are three servings of vegetable. It’s worth hunting out reduced-fat halloumi cheese if you can to cut down on the saturated fat – it’s taste and texture are pretty good, especially for using in recipes. And this Warm fennel, orange and halloumi salad from the Waitrose website is just the job to use up the remainder (it’s delicious and easy).
Newer readers to Mostly Eating might be surprised to see a meat-based recipe popping up here. There aren’t many meat recipes here simply because we don’t eat much of the stuff, though we’re not actually vegetarian. We’ll have meat about once a week, so maybe one meal out of twenty, and it’s a meal I’m happy to spend money on and take time over. Nutritionally the evidence just keeps on stacking up for plant-based diets, with the latest finding being that people who eat less meat may lose more weight than meat eaters with the same calorie intake. And everyone has their own personal ethics around meat. I wouldn’t dream of pressing mine on to anyone reading this or indeed the people I meet through work who I give nutrition advice to. My take on meat eating is that I’m happy to occasionally eat and savour meat that has been raised to a high animal welfare standard, but the idea of eating animals at most meals just doesn’t sit comfortably.
We have this with a small portion of rice (brown or basmati) and a
handful of steamed green beans which notches the veggies up to four portions. Take a look at recipe notes for lighter and vegetarian options.
Recipe for Chicken thighs with courgette, halloumi and honey
For a lighter take use two small chicken thighs, skip the halloumi and add a can of drained chickpeas with the tomatoes. For vegetarians, add a can of drained chickpeas and up the halloumi content, griddling the slices of halloumi in a separate pan and adding to the tomato sauce just before serving.
Serves 2 generously
4 x small chicken thighs, boned and skinless
4 thin slices halloumi cheese (about 100g in total, reduced fat if available)
Sage leaves (a couple of sprigs)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large courgette, cut into fingers
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
freshly ground pepper
optional - fresh parsley to sprinkle on top
Flatten out the chicken thighs, cutting the meat if needed to get each piece to be roughly even in thickness all the way along.
Place a slice of halloumi towards one end of each chicken thigh and top with one or two sage leaves. Fold the remainder of the meat over the top of the halloumi. Tie a short piece of string around each thigh to keep your halloumi and chicken bundle together.
Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan or casserole (one with a lid). Cook the chicken thighs on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until lightly browned all over.
Take the chicken out of the pan and put aside for now.
Turn down the heat and add the onions to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, until just starting to colour.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the tomatoes, soy sauce and honey to the onions and stir. Add the chicken back into the pan containing your tomato sauce, cover with a well fitting lid and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes are up, turn the chicken pieces over and add in the courgette. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
Check that the chicken is cooked through. If it is cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and snip off the string from each thigh. Serve with the sauce and a sprinkling of parsley if using.