Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quick Dinner: Fig, Chicken, and Israeli Couscous Salad

I picked up the September Martha Steward Living magazine at the airport the other day, after I had read all the old New Yorker magazines I had brought along. We tried the Fig, Chicken, and Barley recipe this week and it was delicious despite the fact that we had to tweak the recipe to what was in the pantry. I balked at the idea of simmering the barley in the chicken stock for 40 minutes, which does not follow my quick dinner rules. I used Harvest Grains Israeli couscous from Trader Joe's. It is a new favorite and contains a base of large pearl couscous mixed with orzo, dried garbonzos, and quinoa.

Add 6 cups water, some chopped onion, sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 halved seeded spicy chile, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, and 2-4 crush fresh garlic cloves to a medium, yet deep, pan. Bring contents to a boil.

While waiting for the stock water to boil get the couscous going on another burner. Follow the directions on the back of the Harvest Grains package, cooking time is ~10 minutes. You should end up with about 3 cups of whatever whole grain you choose to use.

When the stock water is boiling, add 1 package organic, free-range, vegetarian-fed chicken (I am still working on a good vegetarian substitute). Cook for ~8 minutes. Slice through the fattest piece to make sure the inside is not pink. Place all pieces of chicken in a bowl and put in the freezer to cool or if you live in Alaska put outside for ~10 minutes.

The salad: In a medium bowl add the couscous, 1/4 cup fig-balsamic vinegar (I used regular balsamic but recommend using the fig), 4 scallions or green onions chopped, 2 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil, a few pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper. Take the chicken out of the freezer. If cool enough pull apart into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl, mix well. Add 1 pint of fresh, quartered figs. Good for dinner and for lunch the next day.

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