Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken with Spicy Date Couscous

When I get home from work, I immediately shed my work clothes which just feels so good, doesn't it? Then it's off to the kitchen to whip up something for dinner. I've had quick dinners on the brain lately and have been bookmarking and writing down ideas that will result in me being fed and relaxing on the couch by 7pm. The other day I stared vacantly into the refrigerator and was confronted with the familiar puzzle: all sorts of food, nothing to eat. I suspect this goes hand in hand with a closet full of clothes yet nothing to wear.

I persevered and came up with this superquick, very tasty weeknight dinner. I had the chicken ready to go which, when pounded thin, cooked in no time flat. I cooked the couscous in some stock with frozen peas, sweet chopped dates, toasted pine nuts and a good pinch of deeply spicy garam masala. The entire dish gets garnished with fresh basil. It's spicy, fresh and interesting all at once.

Speaking of good, fast recipes, I've been catching Jamie Oliver's show 30 Minute Meals lately for some inspiration. I've always liked him but now that I'm a regular viewer I sort of love him. His enthusiasm for cooking is infectious and the man can definitely throw together a fantastic looking meal. I recently downloaded his free iPhone app as well and am blown away by the innovative design and functionality of it. If you don't have it, get it.

For 2-3 servings:

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 1¼ teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup pitted, chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup peas
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Place the chicken in a large ziploc bag. Pound the chicken until it is about 1/2-inch thick. Coat with the peanut oil and season generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Preheat a grill on high heat or alternatively, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside and keep warm.

In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken stock and peanut oil over high heat. When it comes to a boil, stir in the couscous, garam masala, salt, dates, and peas. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 5 minutes. Uncover and stir.

Divide the couscous amongst two plates. Sprinkle the pinenuts over the top. Thinly slice the chicken and place on top of the couscous. Garnish with the fresh basil and serve.

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