Weekly Winner: Not Your Average Tuesday Night Chicken Dinner

glazed chickenI think chicken breasts get a bad wrap.  Yes, the can be bland and boring but that is not their fault!  It’s the fault of whoever cooks them!  Done right, they can be an easy, nutritious, and downright tasty go-to dinner pick.  Treat them right and they will reward you with a delectable, low-fat, protein-rich meal.  Because they are such a blank canvas, they take well to aggressive seasoning.  And this sweet-spicy combination is the perfect example.

Glazed Chicken Breasts with Currant-Pistachio Couscous, comes from Cook’s Country Magazine.  It brings the heat with harissa, but tempers it nicely with the apricot preserves.  It’s a super easy, uniquely different one-pan dinner that I’ll be making frequently this spring.

Glazed Chicken Breasts with Currant-Pistachio Couscous

Serves 4

2 Tbsp apricot preserves

1 Tbsp harissa

5 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1/4 cup dried currants

1 tsp grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1-1/2 tsp salt, divided

4 (6 to 8-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

1-1/2 cups water

1-1/4 cups couscous

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped.

Procedure:

  1. Combine apricot preserves, harissa and 1 tablespoon oil in bowl.  Transfer one tablespoon harissa mixture to second bowl and stir in currants, lemon zest and juice, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Cook chicken until golden brown and meat registers 160 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to cutting board, brush all over with harissa-apricot mixture (without currants), and tent with foil.
  3. Bring water to boil in now-empty skillet over high heat.  Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in pistachios and harissa-currant mixture.  Slice chicken 1/2 inch thick and serve over couscous.
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Weekly Winner: A Big Bowl of Satisfaction

ground turkey-quinoaThis is time of year that planning lunch gets hard.   I’m tired of soups and want something I can sink my teeth into.  The problem is it’s not quite “salad weather” yet.  There are still days I want some warmth to my lunches and to have something cooked rather than simply “assembled”.  I also want my lunch to be healthy and something that won’t weigh me down on the off-chance it warms up above freezing outside and I can actually go out and run around.  What’s a girl to do???  It’s simple… and its delicious…. make this Spiced Ground Turkey-Quinoa Bowl with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce.

This recipe, from Fine Cooking, hits all the right notes.  It has some warm elements (the turkey-spinach mixture) and some fresh elements (the tomatoes and olives) and even something creamy to round it all out (the yogurt-tahini sauce).  I also like the fact that everything is not all mixed together.  Keeping everything separate keeps it interesting – every bite has a different taste and a different texture.  There’s nothing new or revolutionary here but it is a nice combination of ingredients that you may not think to put together.  It is quick to make and serves as the perfect bridge from winter lunch to spring lunch.

Spiced Ground Turkey-Quinoa Bowl with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp sweet paprika

1-1/4 tsp ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 oz fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)

2 Tbsp tahini

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

5 oz cherry tomatoes, halved (about 1 cup)

2 oz Kalamata olives, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Procedure:

  • Cook the quinoa according to package directions
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the turkey, 1 Tbsp of the garlic, the paprika, cumin, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, breaking up the turkey into small pieces, until fully cooked, about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted.  Keep warm
  • In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, tahini, and lemon juice with the remaining 1 tsp garlic.  Season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
  • Divide the quinoa and the turkey mixture among four bowls.  Dollop with the yogurt sauce, and top with the tomatoes and olives.