Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Moroccan Style Chicken with Spinach over Couscous


Our local fishery posts some pretty delicious looking recipes on their website and this one had me hooked one day.  While my husband is allergic to shellfish, I wasn't going to let that stop me!  Chicken is a valid substitute for any protein, amirite??

Beautiful readers of lemon butter love, let me present to you my Moroccan Style Chicken with Spinach over Couscous ---


A mix of Mediterranean and Andalusian, this dish is full of subtle flavors and just the right amount of vegetables - spinach, red bell pepper, scallions - and one of my favorites, cilantro!  Plus a zing of orange juice and orange zest.  Citrus in dinner is always a game changer for me.  Give.  Me.  More.

The buttery couscous gives this meal a little more substance since the main dish is rather light.  Here's the thing, this recipe is technically for four, but Andy and I definitely polished this off in one sitting guilt-free.  You can't go wrong with chicken and vegetables!


A little side story if you're interested.  You probably know I'm obsessed with cats.  And it is kind of gross to think about a cat in the kitchen but that's why we try not to think about it... whatever.  He is always interested in greens and so we play a game where I'll hang stems off of the counter (whether it is kale stems or in this case, cilantro stems) and he loves it, batting at them until they fall on the floor then he'll look up and wait for the next stem to knock off the counter.  He's just the best.

Anyway, the hopefully inspiring and useful part of this story is that whenever I get a bunch of cilantro or parsley, I always wash and spin the whole bunch even though any recipes calls for like a teaspoon or two.  Then I tuck in for the long haul and use scissors to harvest the leaf from the stem so it is ready to go and doesn't go to waste.  This is kind of time consuming but worth it for me and I recommend it.  If you leave the herb in its bunch, one part will get slimy and then it'll quickly spread and your fresh herbs are ruined.  I found that prepping it all from the get go ensures that I find a way to use it all up.

Coming soon to lemon butter love, Cilantro, Basil and Spinach 'Pesto'...you can really make a delicious pesto with any greens and herbs, it is fabulous!



You all know how much I love a photo of raw chicken (not), but I want to point out that the chicken should be cut up in pretty small pieces so it cooks quickly and evenly...





Kitchen Hack:  Use a meat mallet on seeds in a baggy to grind spices.

After toasting the coriander seeds and cumin seeds with the pine nuts, I was looking for a good way to grind these spices without a spice grinder and without a mortar and pestle.   My kitchen hack worked so well!!!  Hooray!











Moroccan Style Chicken with Spinach over Couscous

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into smaller than bite sized pieces
1/3 c olive oil
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
6 scallions, sliced
1/2 c cilantro leaves
1 tsp orange zest, minced
Juice from 1/2 to 1 whole orange
2-3 c baby spinach
2 tsp ground coriander seeds, toasted
2 tsp ground cumin seeds, toasted
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper to tast
1 c dry couscous

Directions:

You'll want to make sure all of your raw ingredients are prepared before you begin to cook since everything happens really fast once you start.

To prepare your coriander and cumin seeds and pine nuts, in a medium skillet over medium to high heat, add your pine nuts and toss them until they start to brown.  Add your coriander seeds and cumin seeds to the same pan and toss them for a few minutes.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes and you're ready to grind them.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the olive oil over medium high.  Once oil is hot, add chicken using tongs to gently stir every few minutes so all sides are cooked.  This should take about 5-8 minutes.  When the chicken is nearly fully cooked, add garlic, red bell pepper, scallions and your spices (fresh ground and otherwise).  Stir for about 2-3 minutes until scallions and red bell pepper starts to soften.  Add orange juice, orange zest and cilantro, stir and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Add spinach and stir until wilted.  Remove from heat.

Prepare your couscous as directed.  Once the water boils, couscous is ready almost instantly so I don't recommend doing this ahead of time.

Serve the Moroccan Style Spinach over Couscous.  Serves 2-4 people ;)





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