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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Israeli Couscous with Chicken and Peas

So I've been absent from the old bloggy blog for awhile now, thanks to a long overdue and much needed vacation. We stayed with Todd's uncle and aunt in San Diego for just over a week, and my God, it was heaven.

I drank hot tea each morning, whilst wearing a sweater and slippers, but by the afternoons we were enjoying the beach, swimming in the surf one at a time while the other stayed and played with Alex in the sand. We visited Old Town, OB, had a bonfire dinner on Shelter Island, and not once did we get mired in horrible traffic (miraculous, let me tell you).

We went to restaurants, Balboa park, and only had one miserable day thanks to the horrors of a busy day at San Diego Zoo. Remember my plantar fasciitis? Yeah, well, it's going to remember San Diego Zoo for the rest of its life (which I hope isn't long). We sat outside every night, where the temperature + wind chill made it feel more deliciously chilly than anything Tucson has to offer, even in the dead of "winter." Sweaters were worn again, people. In August. It was... perfect.

Anyways, now we're home and sneezing and achy with allergies, and I wake up with bloody noses every morning. Hurray, desert! Well Jil, what the fuck does this have to do with couscous? Well, I'll tell you, faithful reader, I'll tell you. Having enjoyed all that cool weather, it made me crave a cool weather dish. I didn't realize it, either, until I tasted dinner last night.

This meal sounds light and summery thanks to the lemon and the scallions, but the richness of the broth that soaks into the couscous, and the heartiness of the chopped chicken and peas makes it extremely comforting, filling and is somewhat reminiscent of a chicken pot pie, or a chicken noodle soup. Even better, it rained last night, which washed away some of the heat and reminded us, ever so slightly, of those cold nights in San Diego.

Enough already! I got this recipe from A Family Feast but made a few changes here and there.

Israeli Couscous with Chicken and Peas
serves two

5 chicken tenders
EVOO (I feel sort of sleazy typing that out)
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
2 cup chicken broth (I use no sodium bouillon powder)
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1.5 cup Israeli (also known as pearl) couscous
2 scallions, thinly sliced, both white and green parts
1 cup frozen peas, thawed under hot water
1/2 cup shredded parmesan, plus extra

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season your chicken with the garlic powder and salt and pepper. Cook chicken until just done, dice it up and add it back to the skillet, setting it aside. I did this about thirty minutes before cooking the rest thanks to Alex refusing to go to bed.

Combine the broth, zest and lemon juice, plus the salt and pepper and set aside. In a large saucepan, heat another drizzle of the olive oil over medium high and add the couscous, toasting lightly for 2-3 as you stir frequently so it won't burn. Next, add the broth combo and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover, simmering for about 8-10 minutes until couscous is al dente.

You'll want remaining liquid in the pan, so use that as your guide, too. Now, add your scallions, peas and chicken, plus the 1/2 cup parmesan and stir until it's all mixed up (I have a 311 song stuck in my head now). Sprinkle with extra parmesan, if you so desire (you will) and enjoy!

I do want to add that I usually love to absolutely cover my dish in parmesan. But I will say to those who avoid dairy (I'm looking at you, Kat), the creaminess of the couscous and broth, the richness of everything, is divine. The cheese is just a little bonus, but by no means will this dish lack in flavor if you skip it.

Now, if it were only 65 degrees with a whipsmart wind coming off the sea right outside my window.

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