Jane Lovett's Traffic Light Chicken recipe

Jane Lovett 13 May 2021

With courgettes, carrots, and beetrot, this chicken recipe covers all veg bases. Jane Lovett has the best summer recipe for you

As a keen gardener and veg grower Traffic Light Chicken, packed with vegetables as it is, combines two of my favourite things—cooking and gardening.

In the summer it’s staple fare at home as there are always onions, carrots, beetroot and courgettes growing in the veg garden—in fact this is the reason the recipe came about in the first place! We grow garlic and French tarragon too, so really, the only ingredients that need buying are the orzo and chicken.

For a vegetarian version, simply leave out the chicken and use vegetable stock.

Traffic Light Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 4)

olive oil, for drizzling

8 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in, well trimmed and snipped twice through the skin and flesh with scissors

4 small–medium (around 300g) raw beetroots, peeled, halved and each cut into 6 wedges

350g carrots, peeled, halved lengthways, larger ones cut into quarters lengthways

1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled (halve any larger cloves)

1 teaspoon dried tarragon sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper 250g dried orzo

500ml well-seasoned fresh chicken or vegetable stock (or use 2 stock cubes)

3 medium courgettes

(around 250g), cut diagonally into 2cm triangular chunks


Preheat the oven to 230°C/210°C fan/gas 8. Find a large, shallow roasting tin around 41 x 26cm and ideally no deeper than 4cm, and line it with a large piece of baking parchment (including up and above the sides).

Drizzle the paper with a little olive oil and arrange the chicken thighs, beetroot and carrots in the tin, spaced out in a single layer. Scatter over the garlic cloves. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, scatter over the tarragon and season everything generously with salt and pepper. Put into the top of the oven, turn the oven down to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7 and cook for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, baste the chicken with the juices and turn the beetroot over (the point of a knife is best for this). Add the orzo, avoiding the chicken as you do so. Pour the stock into the tin around the chicken, ensuring all the orzo is submerged in the liquid and not sitting on top of the chicken, otherwise it won’t cook. Scatter over the courgettes, then return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir the orzo around a little with a teaspoon to ensure it’s all submerged and cooking evenly. Turn the vegetables over and nestle them in, too, if necessary. Cook for a final 10 minutes, then remove and leave to stand for 10 minutes (or a little longer) before eating.

Just One Pan book cover

This recipe features in Jane Lovett’s latest book Just One Pan (Headline Home, £25)

Photography Tony Briscoe

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