Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lemony Couscous with Chicken and Spring Vegetables

Now that the warmer weather is here I've been at a bit of a loss as to what to make for dinner lately.  I don't want anything that will take too long, but it's not quite summer so I'm not really wanting any salads or cold dishes.  I find spring to be the hardest time to come up with interesting and satisfying dishes. Winter dishes are my favorite, but as the temperature and humidity goes up and my holiday weight gain is still reluctant to completely go away (argh!), I try to embrace some lighter meals around April-May.  This is right around the time when I start making a lot of grain-based or couscous-based dishes. 

The spring vegetables and lemon juice here turn a regular chicken and couscous recipe into a springtime meal and this is so quick and easy it's great for weekday dinners.

Servings: 2-4

4 scallions, chopped (you can separate the white and green parts, but I don't)
1 lemon (a few wide strips of zest and juice from the entire lemon)
12-16 oz asparagus, green beans, or haricot verts, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen peas
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup couscous
1-2 cups chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 1/4 cup water
Butter or olive oil for greasing pan
Parsley, chopped (optional, for topping)
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Spray a large saucepan or heat 1 tbsp of butter or olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add chopped scallions, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until the scallions are softened.
    • If you don't like wilted green scallion parts, then  you can separate out the white and green parts and just cook the white parts at this stage and add the green parts later. I'm lazy and don't care so I just dump them all in at this point.
  • Add 1-2 tsp minced garlic and 1/4 tsp thyme and cook for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add a few strips of lemon zest and 1 1/4 cups of water.  Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Add 12-16 oz chopped asparagus/green beans/haricot verts and 1/2 cup peas and bring back to a boil.  
  • Stir in 1 cup couscous and add in 1-2 cups of chopped/shredded chicken. Cover pan, remove from heat, and let sit for 7 minutes.
  • Remove lid and add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a sprinkling of parsley on top.

Now for some pictures!  Anytime I cook anything with chicken, Sunny and Rosy promptly make their presence known in the kitchen. It's really hard to ignore their begging faces and sad uncurled tails.
Could they get any closer to the stove?  Sometimes I have to nudge them away with my feet because there's nowhere for me to stand while I'm cooking!
Scooch! Scooch!
Yeah...I usually add a lot more salt and pepper after I take photos. But I don't think you want to see a pile of salt and pepper so I focus on the actual food for the blog. But with this recipe, a good seasoning of salt and pepper and lots of lemon juice really makes this dish!
Sniff sniff. None for the pugs of course but I always put aside some plain chicken when I'm cooking for a treat after taking photos! Pugs are very very food oriented in case you didn't know.
Pose for me! Smile! Look happy!
And there goes Rosy's tail.
I am always torn between focusing on the food or my pugs, which is silly because we all know what's most important on this food blog...PUGS.

But here's one focused on the food just for giggles.
Adapted from Martha Stewart.