Make This Easy 'Traffic Light' Chicken Meal In Just One Pan

Forget your traffic light travel woes – stay home and cook this dreamy dish instead.

There’s nothing we love more than dinners you can cook in one pan – they’re easy, there’s less washing up, and they’re great for sharing with others.

If you’ve got a few pals coming over for dinner, or just want to cook up a treat for yourself at home, you might want to have a peek at Just One Pan, a new cookbook from Jane Lovett, out on May 27.

We got a sneak peek ahead of its launch and are sharing one of our favourites from the book: what Lovett calls traffic light chicken (yes, the words “traffic light” gave us a little shudder, too.) “A lovely, silky-soft and colourful mélange, originally created when I had a glut of vegetables in the garden,” says Lovett.

“The name came about when my friend Georgie exclaimed, ‘Ooh, traffic light chicken,’ upon seeing the bright red, amber and green colours! Use the recipe as a guide and swap around any vegetables that you have to hand, bearing in mind that root vegetables need to go in with the chicken, and green ones (that grow above the ground) should be added with the orzo. For a vegetarian version, simply leave out the chicken and use vegetable stock.”

Traffic Light Chicken

Serves: four

JUST ONE PAN by Jane Lovett. Headline Home 2021.
JUST ONE PAN by Jane Lovett. Headline Home 2021.

You will need:

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 raw beetroots, peeled, halved and cut into 6 wedges

350g carrots, peeled, halved 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


1. 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).

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Extra hints and tips from Lovett:

  • You can make the recipe to the end of step 2 at any time during the day, then cool, cover and chill, if necessary. Reheat the ingredients in the oven until sizzling and hot throughout (about 5–10 minutes) before continuing with steps 3 and 4.

  • If the beetroot comes complete with leaves and stems, these are delicious washed, sliced and cooked in salted water (or steamed) for a few minutes until tender, then served alongside the chicken.

  • Sliced courgette flowers, rinsed out and the stamens removed, are good scattered over the top at the same time as the courgettes.

Just One Pan by Jane Lovett is published by Headline Home.