Root Veggies and Roast Chicken Meal Prep

I'm not a huge fan of Illinois autumns-- which dip all too suddenly into freezing winter for my liking-- but my one consolation for cold-weather blues are blue potatoes....and purple carrots, and golden beets, and butternut squash, and dinosaur kale, and all of the other beautiful fall produce that makes its way to the market at the turn of the season. And while I might grump about the dropping temperatures, some produce--like carrots and kale-- get sweeter after a cold snap, which concentrates their sugars. And eating those sweet fall veggies makes me a little sweeter too!

To ward off the cold, I picked up a host of bright root vegetables at the Peoria Riverfront Farmers Market at the end of the season, along with my favorite dinosaur kale, a butternut squash, some garlic, and a roasting chicken. The weather may have been rainy and frightful, but the resulting meal prep was delightful.

Root Veggies and Roast Chicken Meal Prep

(Makes enough for 10 meal preps, or 2 people for 5 days)

From the farmers market:

1 bunch purple carrots

1 bunch golden beets

Couple lbs of blue potatoes

1 butternut squash

1 bunch parsley (or cilantro)

2 bunches kale

1 whole chicken

3 cloves garlic

From the store:

1/3 cup olive oil + more for roasting

2 lemons

2 tsp honey

1 can of white beans

1. Roasting chicken is seriously so easy and versatile! First up, defrost your chicken (if you remember, put it in the fridge the night before so that it will be defrosted and ready to go for meal prep the next day). Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add your chicken to a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you may like. Roast for 1 hr and 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.

2. While your chicken is cooking, scrub the root veggies (beets, potatoes, carrots) and chop. On a large flat pan, add all of your chopped veggies, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Make sure not to crowd the pan too much or layer your veggies on top of each other or they will steam instead of roast (which is fine-- but you won't get that coveted caramelization and crispiness on the edges). Add your veggies to the oven with the chicken and let roast for about a half hour, or until tender.

3. Peel butternut squash and cut into cubes. Toss in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once the chicken and root veggies are done, pull them out of the oven and set aside to cool. Pop in your butternut squash and roast for 30 minutes or until tender.

4. Wash kale and parsley and rough chop, spin in a salad spinner (or dry with a paper towel), and set aside.

5. Crush and peel 3 cloves of garlic and add to a blender, along with the zest and juice of two lemons, 2 tsp honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt & pepper to taste. Blend on high to create the dressing.

6. Open white beans, rinse, and drain.

7. Once the chicken is cool, pull it apart into pieces. (Pro tip: Save the skins and bones for making soup stock later!)

8. Distribute the veggies, chicken, beans, and dressing among 10 meal prep bowls. First lay down a bed of kale and parsley, add root veggies, add butternut squash, add chicken, add white beans, and add a Tbsp of dressing to the side (don't drizzle over everything-- the acid and salt will affect the texture and color of the other veggies in the bowl, so you don't want to mix it onto the other veggies until just before eating). Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze (these make GREAT frozen meals).

To serve, simply shake to distribute the dressing and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. The kale will wilt and steam in the bowl. If freezing, simply remove from freezer to fridge the night before you plan to eat the meal, and then microwave just like a fresh meal prep.

Voila, a little bowl of sunshine to chase away any winter chills!


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