No 9: Middle Eastern grilled chicken and couscous salad

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If like me you’re worried about emerging from lockdown resembling more of a plump slug rather than a beautiful butterfly, this is a good recipe to get your healthy eating back on track. This is a delicious and very healthy salad.  Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients, many of them are repeated in each section, and you can substitute the herbs, salad leaves or nuts you have to hand to make life easy. For a veggie alternative toss wedges of butternut squash in the marinade and roast until soft and top with fried halloumi. A great barbeque dish!

Ingredients

4 skinned chicken breast fillets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper                                                               

1 medium red onion finely chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil (plus 2 tbsp. to dress the couscous)

2 garlic cloves smashed and chopped

200g couscous (preferably whole wheat)

200ml chicken stock (very hot)

50g shelled walnuts or nuts of your choice

2 pomegranates

25g chopped parsley

25g chopped coriander

1 small bunch watercress (washed)

1 small bag washed spinach leaves

1 ripe avocado

Marinade

4 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. pomegranate syrup or teriyaki sauce

1 ½ tbsp. runny honey

1 tsp cumin

2 garlic cloves smashed and chopped

½ tsp Harissa paste (preferably Rose Harissa)

Dressing

Juice 1 lime

1 tsp runny honey

½ tsp harissa paste

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Slice each chicken breast into 4 – 5 long strips and place in a non-metallic dish.  Mix up the marinade ingredients and smother the chicken.  Leave for at least a couple of hours or overnight if possible.
  2. To make the salad.  Sweat the onion in the oil until translucent and soft, this may take up to 5 minutes and then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute and then stir in the couscous.  Stir well to coat all the grains and then add the hot stock. Stir, turn off the heat and then cover with a tight fitting lid and leave for 10 minutes. 
  3. While the couscous is steaming dry roast the walnuts in a fry pan and then roughly break up.  Halve the pomegranates, and while holding them over a bowl, bash with a wooden spoon so that the seeds fall out, remove any pith or membrane.
  4. Set your grill to its highest setting and line with tin foil.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill, basting occasionally.  Start with the grill high, but turn down as the chicken starts to singe on the edges.  Turn and baste regularly until cooked and still juicy.
  5. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and season well with salt and freshly milled pepper, the chopped herbs and 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to moisten it up a little.  Leave in the pan with the lid on to keep warm. 
  6. Place the salad ingredients in a bowl. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and use half to toss through the salad.

To Serve

Place the couscous onto a serving platter and top with the salad.  Place the hot chicken strips on top and garnish with the pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts.  Serve with flat breads, natural yogurt and the remaining dressing.

Enjoy!

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