Greek chicken and peas in tomato sauce is an easy, one-pot meal that’s both elegant and comforting. Gently braised in olive oil and tomato, sweet peas and snappy carrots melt like butter along with dill-scented chicken drums. This is a traditional dish called “kotopoulo me araka”, really popular in Greek homes and in constant rotation all year long.
WHY SHOULD I MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Where do I begin? The benefits of this dish are endless.
Easy to make with pantry staples
This is a one-pot meal plus the ingredients are super easy to find and most probably in your pantry as we speak. Grab them, chop them, add them to the pot and simmer! Done. Another no-hands-on but mostly cooking time recipe.
I hear you whining out there. “Girl, no time to be around the kitchen”. Let’s be honest, guys! A tasteful, homemade meal needs quality ingredients and some dedication. Even if is hard at the beginning and it takes some time to cook, soon enough you get the hang of it and cooking may end up more fun than feeling like a chore. You’ll get there, I am sure of it!
This meal is another ode to the Mediterranean way of eating: full of vegetables and a small portion of chicken (white meat) which is the preferred meat in this way of eating. Keep in mind to consume 1-2 servings of poultry weekly (about 6 ounces – 170g) and always served with a rich seasonal salad (more veggies, yeah!) and a small piece of whole-wheat bread or pita bread.
A “ladero” dish: make it like a Greek cook
Greek cooking has got a brilliant way to consume seasonal vegetables using one of the most nutritional ingredient in the world: olive oil.
In Greece, we call “ladero” (λάδι=olive oil called ladi in Greek and gives the name “ladero”) the cooking method that uses olive oil and usually tomato to braise other ingredients.
The huge amounts of vegetables and herbs make those dishes a healthy bomb and their abundance of olive oil provides more nutritional benefits and so much flavor. It’s a unique way to combine healthy food and amazing taste.
Some more “ladera” (in plural) dishes that you should absolutely make:
Roasted vegetables (Briam) The best summer produce roasted in a thick olive oil-tomato sauce.
Braised green beans (Fasolakia) Simmer green beans with more veggies and herbs. Amazing.
Cabbage stew (Lahanorizo) A kind of winter risotto, the Greek way, of course.
Braised cauliflower (Kounoupidi kapama) Braised with more veggies and herbs. An easy and unique cauliflower dish to give extra flavor to long winter nights.
Artichoke stew (Agginares a la polita) Artichoke is the star of the dish along with tons of other healthy ingredients. Marvelous taste, to say the least.
Green peas: the basic ingredient
Let’s talk about the king of this dish.
Green peas (also known as garden peas) are the seeds inside young pea pods. They are picked at the peak of their ripeness and separated from the casing. Those delightful fresh peas can be eaten raw or you may cook them or freeze them for long-term storage.
For those who like to learn more about the food group that green peas belong to, note down that they are members of the legume family along with beans and lentils. In a few words, they all belong to the vegetable group as they contain similar nutrients like folate and potassium, and dietary fiber.
Furthermore, their nutritional value is similar to meats, poultry, and seafood in their contribution of certain nutrients. Therefore, they are vegetarian options within the protein foods group. Isn’t this amazing?
For this recipe, you serve a generous amount of green peas with a small amount of white meat (chicken), so this is a plate full of protein among other nutrients.
Make it all year round
Fresh green peas are super sweet and tasteful in the spring and early summer. Nevertheless, it would be a pity not to enjoy them all year long. This is the reason that I absolutely love frozen peas. Fresh and ready to use them whenever I please.
A picky-eater favorite
Not only peas are delicious and healthy but it seems that vegetable-haters & picky eaters are fond of them. Well, not all of them but, still, better chances with peas than broccoli. Right?
INGREDIENTS FOR GREEK CHICKEN AND PEAS
Let’s go over the ingredients:
Fresh or frozen.
Chicken drumsticks or boneless chicken thighs are the recommended parts. They give extra flavor after searing and also simmering meat and veggies together the peas absorb all the flavors of the chicken. That means the most delicious outcome. All that even before the tomato-olive oil combo addition to the tasteful mix.
Use boneless chicken thighs to reduce cooking time. Simmer for 20 minutes instead of the 40 minutes that drumsticks need.
The best quality you can find. Even better, if it is extra virgin olive oil and organic. I should remind you that olive oil is the main source of fat and the only oil we use in traditional Mediterranean cooking.
Onion, garlic, carrot, tomato (including tomato paste). The essential combo for the Mediterranean Greek dishes. Just add some spring onions for the extra flavor kick!
The basic herb for this recipe. Use it in abundance and you won’t regret it.
Not a fan of dill? Try fresh parsley instead. Not a fan of parsley as well? Oregano or thyme maybe? No? Ok, then go for the curry version (see below for variations and subs).
HOW TO MAKE GREEK CHICKEN AND PEAS
Step 1: Over high heat, cook chicken until brown on all sides. 5 minutes per side.
Step 2: Add onions, carrots, and the whole cloves of garlic. Cook until the onions begin to soften. Add the tomato paste, stir and scrape any veggies stuck to the pot/skillet.
Step 3: Add the tomato and the spring onions. Simmer for 40 minutes.
Step 4: Add the peas, the extra olive oil, and finally the dill (or the herb of your choice).
Step 5: The chicken and peas in tomato sauce is ready! Listen to this amazing sound and see the density of the tomato sauce.
ADDITIONS – VARIATIONS
This is a recipe you can make all year-round and consequently the list of added ingredients is rather huge.
As always, I recommend making first the posted recipe as it is and then decide about how to make it your own.
Just to give you some of my favorite additions/variations that always follow the seasonal produce:
- Celery and potatoes. These ingredients make it more filling and it’s the perfect stew for cold winter days.
- My husband and I love curry. So I season the chicken and vegetables with curry powder, a pinch of cumin, and a lot of turmeric. So good!
I make this recipe and keep it light as it is.
THE VEGETARIAN-VEGAN VERSION
If you like the idea of this dish, but you are looking for something vegetarian-vegan, skip the meat. Just keep the feta cheese for the serving proposal (optional) for the vegetarian version and the whole wheat bread for both versions!
MY GREEK CHICKEN AND PEAS IS READY! NOW, WHAT?
It depends on the weather and the season. Serve it hot during cold winter days and at room temperature or slightly warm (lukewarm) during summer! My family loves it the next day. I assure you that it is even better. The tomato-vegetable-olive oil sauce is delightfully absorbed and the outcome is heaven.
This is usually a main meal full of vegetables and healthy protein. However, if you like to increase your daily vegetable intake, serve it along with a seasonal salad like this cabbage salad for winter and Greek salad for summer.
Don’t forget the wine. I adore it along with a chilled white wine during the summer (Moschofilero or Assyrtico) or a Merlot (red wine) for those winter nights in front of the fireplace.
Keep it in your fridge for up to 2-3 days. In the case of leftovers, you may serve them with the grain of your preference. The tomato-pea-carrot sauce is so tasteful the following day and it will help you serve another meal if you mix it with pasta, rice, orzo or the grain you got in hand.
STORE – FREEZE – REHEAT
Since I am absolutely sure that this recipe will be a hit, made a double batch. Because this meal isn’t only delicious but it freezes and then reheats so well. Therefore, froze some preferably in a glass sealed food container for 1-3 months.
Put it in the refrigerator on a low shelf and leave it there until fully defrosted about 24 to 48 hours according to the quantity. Cook within 1–2 days.
If you make this recipe, you have to let me know! I absolutely love your feedback. This is a huge motivation for me and it keeps 30daysofgreekfood’s kitchen alive. Bookmark this recipe and leave your rate and comment below, or take a photo with your Greek chicken and peas in tomato sauce and tag me on Instagram with #30daysofgreekfood and Facebook with @30daysofgreekfood.
Greek chicken and peas in tomato sauce
- 6-8 chicken drumsticks or boneless chicken thighs*
- ½ cup (8 tablespoons) olive oil, half for sautéing and half at the end
- 1 big onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, cubed
- 3 whole cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 14 oz (400g) can diced tomatoes or 4 big fresh ripped tomatoes, diced
- 3½ cups (500g) green peas, fresh or frozen
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill (or parsley)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pat dry the chicken with a few sheets of paper towel and season thoroughly with salt and pepper, to taste.
- In a large skillet or heavy bottom pot, heat half of the olive oil (4 tablespoons) over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken for approximately 5 minutes per side until the skin is lightly golden brown.
- Add the onion, the carrots and the whole cloves of garlic for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomato paste at the bottom of the skillet/pot. Stir and scrape any veggies stuck to the pot.
- Add the tomatoes and the spring onions and reduce heat to low. Cover with lid and simmer for 40 minutes stirring occasionally. Season to taste. In case it needs more liquid, pour in no more than ½ cup hot water or broth.
- Add the peas and pour in the rest of the olive oil. Top with dill (or parsley). Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Serve hot or at room temperature.