An easy prep ahead roast dinner for friends

I had friends coming over for dinner and knew I had very little time between getting children to bed and them arriving. I knew I’d barely have time to throw on my earrings and lippy so I chose to make things I could prep ahead of time and finish off while my friends chatted to me in the kitchen over a bottle of fizz.

Both the salads contain roasted veg and are finished with a hit of acid freshness. The roast chicken was simplicity itself and leftovers helped me through my hangover the next day! In fact, all these salads will sit happily in the fridge for a few days so they make a good option for packed lunches.

Roast Carrot salad (serves 4)
Precision is much less important than tasting here. Mix the salad then taste and adjust the salt and pepper and add extra orange juice to balance the flavours.

8 carrots
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon cumin ground
2 tablespoon flaked almonds
Grated zest and juice of an orange
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo)
3oz goats cheese
Handful chopped mint
1 pomegranate

1. Toss the carrots with the oil, cumin and orange zest and roast at 400f/200c for around 40 mins until golden.
2. To serve, toss them with the crumbled cheese, chickpeas, mint, orange juice.
3. Scatter pomegranate seeds and flaked almonds over the salad

Beetroot and rocket salad with quinoa (serves 4)
8 golf ball size beets, scrubbed and chopped into chunks (around 2 inches in size)
2 handfuls rocket (arugula) or shredded raw kale
Half a cup quinoa (could use cous cous instead)
Salt, pepper, chilli flakes
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds or almond slivers
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano or a couple of sprigs thyme
Optional – handful chopped basil

1. Heat oven to 200c/400f. Lay a large sheet of foil on a roasting pan
2. Lay chopped beets on foil, drizzle with 1 tablespoon balsamic, salt, chili flakes and oregano or thyme and chopped garlic. Fold foil over and pinch shut all around to make a sealed parcel. Cook for 45-60 mins until soft
3. Cook quinoa as per packet instructions while beets cook
4. To assemble, combine the quinoa, remaining balsamic, olive oil, arugula, basil If using, seeds and beets in a large bowl. Be sure to pour the juices from the beets into the bowl too and scrape any caramelised bits of garlic in with a spatula.
5. Leftovers are great tossed with tuna or chicken and stuffed into toasted pitta with yoghurt or humus.

Lemon roast chicken

Slice a lemon or two thinly with the skin on. Lay the lemon at the bottom of a roasting pan and cover with thick slices of garlic (1 clove per thigh). Place Chicken thighs (skin on, bone in) on top of the lemon and garlic then scatter smoked paprika liberally on top of the chicken along with a good sprinkle of sea salt. Then roast at 200c /400f for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear. Leave to rest for 10 mins before serving and serve with the lemon and garlic spooned over.


You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.

Get more recipes like this

Find more recipes for carrots, beetroot, chicken thighs and salads here.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to get my recipes as I cook them.

If you’d like to get my newsletter every couple of weeks, packed with recipes like this and my meal plans, please sign up here.