It seems like there's a big difference between the chosen style of cooking when my boyfriend is in our little London flat, and the meals I opt for when I'm home alone.
If I'm making dinner to share with my man, the focus is on hearty, rich dishes such as sausage stews with potato wedges, spaghetti and meatballs, or roast dinners that we can then pick at throughout the rest of the week.
If the situation calls for a solo supper, normally I aim for something lighter and simpler, often incorporating healthy seafood with other "power foods" for a nutritional boost and a smugly virtuous glow.
Most of the time I keep these one-woman dinners to myself however (barring the obligatory Instagram snapshot), because so little real cooking is involved that to class the dish as a "recipe" would make me feel like a fraud. Generally it's just a collection of random ingredients that have been hiding at the back of my cupboard or wilting in the fridge, hastily chucked together in a pan before I succumb to the temptations of the biscuit barrel or the nearby chippy.
Indeed, this particular dish is no different, but I received a Facebook request for the instructions from Mary-Ann of Green Farm Fitness (where I was put through my paces last April), and it seemed rude not to oblige. As with most of my culinary creations, the exact quantities of ingredients aren't important - just use whatever you've got to hand - and feel free to even swap in other root vegetables depending on your personal preference.
When I conjured up this colourful concoction I made use of a lonely leftover roasted chicken thigh, but it would only add an extra 30 minutes maximum to the overall cooking time if you were starting from scratch. Equally, if time wasn't an issue you could simply roast the raw vegetables for 45 minutes - but the sofa was calling me that night, so speed was the name of the game!
Sweet and spicy roasted chicken and vegetables (serves 1):
200g butternut squash
1 roasted chicken thigh (90g approx)
1/2 tbsp cooking oil (I used rapeseed oil)
1/2 tbsp honey (I used agave syrup)
30g pistachio nuts
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp allspice
Seasoning to taste
1. Peel the butternut squash and carrots, dicing the squash into 2cm chunks and "turning" the carrots. Place in a pan of salted boiling water for around 5 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
2. Drain the vegetables and pour into a roasting tin or casserole dish lined with foil. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes and allspice, then drizzle over the oil. Mix everything together then fold over the edges of the foil to form a parcel, then pop the dish into the oven at around 200C for 20 minutes.
3. Whilst the vegetables are roasting, shell and pound the pistachio nuts using a pestle and mortar. Note: I used a punnet of chilli and lime pistachios saved from a recent Graze box, my stash of healthy snacks that often featured on #Project366).
4. When the vegetables have been roasting for around 10 minutes, open up the foil package and drizzle over the honey or agave syrup. Gently mix everything together again to ensure the syrup coats the vegetables then place back in the oven uncovered.
5. Remove any skin and bones from the chicken thigh and shred into fine pieces (though be careful if you've only just roasted it!). Add the chicken to the vegetables and lightly shake around the pan to combine all of the ingredients, before popping the dish back in the oven for the final few minutes.
6. Wilt the spinach in a frying pan with a tiny bit of butter or oil and seasoning. Note: I actually used frozen spinach, which I keep in constant supply for these instances and reheat plain in the microwave - it's a total cheat but much cheaper and easier than buying fresh spinach.
7. When the vegetables are slightly caramelised and the shredded chicken is warm, remove the roasting tin from the oven and mix in the spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the crushed pistachio nuts. You can serve this dish on its own or on a bed of couscous if you can't cope with skipping the carbs completely.