This easy Persian-inspired chicken and rice dish has a beautiful golden color and a wonderful fragrance. If you have saffron in the cupboard, do add that optional pinch; just a little will enhance the flavor and aroma of the dish.
4 cups cooked brown rice, preferably basmati or jasmine
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)
1 lemon, sliced (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat two 8-inch-square baking dishes or foil pans with cooking spray (see Tip).
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken thighs, and cook, turning once, until both sides are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken thighs. Pour off all but about 1 Tbsp. fat from the pan.
Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and onions to the pan and sprinkle with ¼ tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until soft and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in garlic, turmeric, paprika, and saffron, if using; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Transfer the onions to a plate and set aside.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add cabbage. Cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ tsp. salt, and half of the reserved onion. Continue cooking until the rice is well coated and heated through, 5 to 7 minutes.
Divide the rice mixture between the prepared baking dishes; nestle 4 of the reserved chicken thighs in each dish. Top each with half of the remaining cooked onions. Cover both dishes with foil. Label one and freeze for up to 1 month.
Bake the remaining casserole, covered, for 30 minutes.
Uncover and continue baking until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken registers 165°F and the onions are starting to brown around the edges, 5 to 10 minutes more. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices, if desired.
Tip: Instead of freezing half, you can bake the full recipe in a 9x13-inch baking pan. In Step 6, bake, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
To make ahead: This double-batch recipe makes one meal for tonight and one to freeze for up to 1 month (see Step 5). To cook from frozen: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed in Steps 6-7, adding an additional 10 minutes baking time once uncovered.
Equipment: Two 8-inch-square baking dishes or foil pans
274 calories;10 g fat(2 g sat); 3 g fiber; 29 g carbohydrates; 17 g protein; 28 mcg folate; 50 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 203 IU vitamin A; 16 mg vitamin C; 39 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 194 mg sodium; 307 mg potassium