Chicken with fennel, tomato, eggplant, capsicum and chorizo

tomato-chicken-fennel
It’s winter in Australia and fennel’s in season making it a great time to enjoy this crunchy, slightly sweet vegetable.

Fennel is rich in fibre, is a good source of vitamin C and according to the World’s Healthiest Foods contains a unique combination of phytonutrients making it rich in antioxidants. One of it’s phytonutrients – anethole, helps the body block against a potentially strong gene-altering and inflammation-triggering molecule. This unique anti-inflammatory effect is thought to help the body fight against cancer.

Having recently returned from Spain I thought I’d try a Spanish inspired chicken dish with fennel, chorizo and plenty of vegetables.

This dish contains aubergine/eggplant which like the other vegetables in this dish is rich in antioxidants. One compound found in almost all eggplant varieties is chlorogenic acid which is one of nature’s most potent free radical scavengers, and is credited for its antimicrobial and antiviral qualities as well as helping the body lower bad cholesterol.

Yellow capsicum/(belle) peppers are extremely high in vitamin C and a range of other antioxidants – regular consumption of which is thought to help fight against the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Similarly tomatoes are rich in many of the same nutrients as capsicums/belle peppers and are one of nature’s highest sources of lycopene. Lycopene has been credited with for helping prevent hardening of the arteries (a major cause of heart disease) and for helping fight a range of cancers including prostate, breast, lung, bladder, colon, pacreatic and uterine cancer. Interestingly, the lycopene in tomatoes is more easily absorbable by the body when the tomatoes are cooked. Similarly, consumption with fresh basil aids lycopene absorption.

Chicken adds a good serve of protein and the chorizo adds a great flavour boost, however if you’re not keen on chorizo this can be omitted.

Ingredients

  • 600g/1.3lb chicken thighs, cut into chunks around 4cm/1.5 inches in size
  • 1 medium sized chorizo, finely sliced
  • 1 x 400g tin/14 fl oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 punnet 250g/ 9 oz cherry tomatoes OR 1 x 400g tin/14 fl oz can of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium sized fennel bulb (the white part), finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized eggplant/aubergine – roughly 300g/10.5 oz
  • 1 medium to large yellow capsicum/(belle) pepper
  • 1 Spanish (red) onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Generous handful of fresh basil leaves

Method

Notes: if you are making this whole dish in a single pan then you will need a very large, deep and heavy based frying pan. I don’t have one so start everything off in a large frying pan then transfer to a big pot.

  1. Heat a pan to a medium-high heat and then add a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the chicken in batches (so as not to overcrowd the pan) until golden brown then set aside
  2. Clean the pan and bring to a medium heat then add a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they start to turn translucent
  3. Add the fennel and chorizo and cook until the chorizo starts to brown
  4. If the pan is starting to dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil (or a little water if you prefer) then add the eggplant/aubergine and capsicum/(belle) pepper and cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables have started to soften
  5. If necessary, transfer the vegetable and chorizo mix to a big pot, then add the crushed and cherry tomatoes and chicken then simmer for half an hour
  6. When ready to serve, stir through the fresh basil leaves

Enjoy alone or with some brown rice or your favourite grain (cauliflower cous cous /rice works well too).

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