March – Lemony Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash

The inspiration for this recipe came from the NY Times, Melissa Clark’s Roasted Chicken Thighs with Winter Squash. She used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, delicata or acorn squash, fresh sage, and lemon. I didn’t exactly have those on hand and my sage plant is late to the party called spring. But I loved the flavor combination of ingredients and I did have a lemon. So here is my adaptation, Lemony Boneless Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash. 

Boneless chicken thighs with butternut squash, lemon and baby kale (see the steam rising from the dish?)


  • 1/2 lemon, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and thinly sliced crosswise into wedges
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – divided
  • 1 rounded teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, use less if not kosher plus additional 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon chile powder, depending on the heat of your brand and your tolerance
  • 4 cups of butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach or kale


  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil; drop in the lemon slices and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. In a small skillet toast the coriander and cumin seeds until you start to smell their deliciousness and they are light brown. Remove to a plate to cool. Then grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to a medium powder. You want some texture to remain.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of oil, cumin, coriander, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the pepper. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or several hours.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  5. In a large bowl combine the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the maple syrup, chile powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt with the cubed butternut squash. Toss to mix, then add the cornstarch, again tossing so the cubes are evenly coated.
  6. Spread the squash out onto the baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes until brown and caramelized. Remove from the oven and cool.

    Roast butternut squash

    Roast butternut squash

  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and lemon slices plus any marinade. Toss until browned and cooked through, add the butternut squash, and kale (or spinach) to the skillet and continue to toss everything together until warmed and the kale is wilted.
  8. Serve with rice, polenta, or other grain.

The tip here is coating the butternut squash with cornstarch, this works with sweet potatoes as well. It results in a crisp exterior and meltingly soft interior.

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

How are you adapting recipes for what you have on hand?


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