What makes you smile? The sight of your adorable puppy chasing its tail? Or watching Charlie Bit My Finger on repeat? Coming home to your warm, soft, cozy bed? Finding forgotten money in your pocket? Receiving a kind postcard, email, letter, or comment? Getting all green lights on your drive home? Reminiscing with old photos of friends and family?
All those things make me smile. But do you know what else makes me smile, big time? The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that arises when placing a beautiful plate of what you know will be a scrumptious meal on the table. When you can find a recipe that sounds delicious, make it, and discover that it tastes even more delectable than you would’ve thought. When you are able to get into a relaxed flow in the kitchen and not worry about every ounce of ingredient you are coaxing together. When you are able to thoroughly enjoy the sounds, aromas, tastes, textures, and beauty of your food. Those things make me beam, they make me peaceful.
To me, spring-time meals should be quick, light, bright, fresh, and not require the oven to be on for hours (if at all). This dish is all those things. It’s as vibrant in flavor as it is on the plate and best of all, it’s healthy and fast. What could be better?
Taste: The chicken is spicy but not with heat, just packed with flavor. The nutty couscous salad perfectly offsets the chicken with its bright and fresh taste.
Texture: The chicken is perfectly moist with a slight crust. The couscous is bursting with textures – juicy, crisp, fluffy.
Ease: Just a few ingredients and less than 30 minutes. Perfect for a weeknight meal.
Appearance: Lovely combination of colors, shapes, and textures.
Pros: Quick, easy, flavorful, healthy, and boyfriend-approved.
Would I make this again? Yes!
Spiced Chicken with Couscous Salad
From Real Simple June 2010
Note: I used whole grain couscous that I cooked according to the box directions (25-30 minutes) then added the tomatoes, peas, basil, etc.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup couscous
- 3/4 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 3/4 pound snap peas, thinly sliced crosswise (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with the paprika, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook in skillet until chicken is browned and juices run clear, 6-7 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board.
Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large bowl. Add 1 cup hot tap water, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes; fluff with a fork. Add the tomatoes, snap peas, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss to combine.
Slice the chicken and serve with the couscous.
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