Spiced Chicken Thighs and Parsley Couscous

I’ve really gotten into spice rubs for meat lately. Easier and less messy than marinades, they are a nice way to spice up (no pun intended) a boring piece of meat, with spices and herbs that already are in the cupboard.

This was an easy Sunday dinner. Always one for looking for simplicity, by browning and roasting the chicken in the same pan, it makes a one-dish supper–less cleanup! I had Israeli couscous in the cupboard, so I used that, which made it more of a pasta side dish. If you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative, quinoa or rice can certainly be used. Served with the first corn of the season, it was a delicious meal and the leftover chicken was perfect on my salads for lunch!

herbed chix

Spiced Chicken Thighs and Parsley Couscous
This recipe originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Sip on a cool glass of ginger lemonade for just 32 cents per serving: Bring 4 cups water and 1/3 cup sliced fresh ginger to a boil in a medium saucepan; remove from heat. Steep 30 minutes. Strain; discard solids. Mix the liquid with the juice of 2 large lemons and 3 tablepoons honey. Serve over ice.

Serves 4 (serving size: 2 thighs and about 1/2 cup couscous)

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed and skinned (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2/3 cup uncooked couscous
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine cumin, sugar, chili powder, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper, lemon rind, and black pepper in a small bowl; rub spice mixture over both sides of chicken. Heat a large ovenproof skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan, placing it skin side down; cook 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is browned. (If necessary, work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.) Transfer pan to oven. Bake chicken at 425° for 14 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 10 minutes before serving.

3. While chicken rests, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add couscous and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring frequently. Carefully stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and chicken stock. Bring liquid to a boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 4 minutes (avoid opening the lid). Fluff couscous with a fork, and stir in parsley and lemon juice.

summer_box1MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Lovethesecretingredient.net
Far be it for me to think I’m the only food blog out there worth reading (there are zillions out there, so I know I’m only a teeny spec in the cyber world!). But I came across Mary Frances’s blog, Love the Secret Ingredient, a couple of years ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading her adventures in the kitchen since then. She cooks a little bit like me; I have this in the fridge, what can I make?

She’s had a project for the last few months that I really admire: seasonal food boxes, all to benefit Feed the Children. I ordered the summer box (pictured), and received a delicious spice rub, some yummy salsa, and other goodies. And the box was totally gluten-free. This sort of project is totally out of my realm, so I’m excited to find something foodie related–and impressed she took her blog and food interest to the next level!

I’ll be ordering the fall box soon! Check it Mary Frances’s blog at www.lovethesecretingredient.net.

Israeli Couscous “Tabbouleh”

I don’t know about where you live, but the weather this summer in Vermont has been “pants,” as my friend in Switzerland would say. Very rainy and very humid. I wilt like a flower when I go outside and my hair has been a permanent Afro for weeks. I heard on the radio the other day we just completed the longest stretch of humid weather on record! (And after a two-day reprieve, humid weather all this week.) So since the weather isn’t ideal for cooking, I try to make dishes that bring at least a little bit of cool to the palate in the evening.

My inspiration for this was from a recipe I saw that was similar, so apologies for not giving proper credit because I can’t remember where, although I think it was Mark Bittman. I’m not crazy about a traditional tabbouleh, but this was different and fresh, cool, and delicious!

Israeli couscous are small pearl-like grains of pasta that resemble uncooked tapioca. Unlike its smaller brother, it takes a little longer to cook and you cook it like pasta, not steam in the water. I buy it in bulk at the coop, but you may be able to find it in your local grocery store near the “regular” couscous. I bought some because these fine pearls were so pretty, but wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to cook. Turns out summer salads is it! The couscous, though, is not the star of this dish; if you have some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from your garden or the farmer’s market, they will shine, with the couscous playing a supporting role.

Helpful Kitchen Hint: Cook the couscous in the morning when it’s cool.  (It takes 10-12 minutes or so.) That way when you’re ready to make dinner, that step is done and you don’t have to wait for it to cool down! Add a little bit of oil to avoid sticking or just rinse with water before making the salad.

For those following a gluten-free diet, quinoa would be a great substitute. A salad like this is great because it is something you can do on the fly, measurements the way you want to do it, and you can add or subtract whatever you like! If you want more tomatoes, want to substitute zucchini instead of cucumbers, add some fresh corn or peas, or use less mint, have at it. This makes a great vegetarian hot weather main or side dish, or you can add some shrimp, chicken, or even tuna for some extra protein!
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Israeli Couscous “Tabbouleh”

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 ¼ water
A tablespoon or so extra virgin olive oil
The juice of one lemon
Grape tomatoes, halved
½ cucumber, peeled, cut in half, seeded and diced
A couple of tablespoons shallots or red onion, diced and minced
1 can garbanzo beans
Feta cheese
Mint leaves
Salt and pepper

1. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the couscous, and cook for about 10 minutes or so, or until done.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the couscous and cool. Add the lemon juice, oil, vegetables, beans,  cheese, mint leaves, and salt and pepper (and extra protein if desired). Chill for about 30 minutes, then serve!