Thursday, August 7, 2008

Spicy Moroccan Chicken with Cous Cous Salad and Mint Yogurt Sauce

Today I got a salmon burger for lunch at Pike Place Brewery in downtown Seattle with my friend Joey. We wanted to get a sampler right before we left since Joey is from the land o' Fosters and needed to try some local ales. Unfortunately we were accosted by some strange man asking us to join him and a friend for a road trip down to California. This was in broad daylight, at a family restaurant! Creepy! And as Biff Tannen would put it, "so we left like a tree and got the hell out of there".

Anyhoo, I came back all bloated and hot with swollen feet and felt that I needed a light dinner with some sort of ingredient to do away with water retention. A guaranteed treat for those cranky warm summer days is cucumbers and yogurt - cucumbers are saturated with water, and has purported water retention relief strengths. The best way to combine these satisfying ingredients into a substantial dinner dish is to make a light salad using cous cous. This Mediterranean style dish is complemented well with spicy Moroccan chicken for those carnivores at heart.

We complemented the dish with a new raspberry wheat beer from Maine-based Sea Dog Brewing Company. I think raspberry wheat is the new "in" thing. If I ever made my own brew, I would make a raspberry-apricot wheat and call it the Ridgeback Raspricot Wheat.

Spicy Moroccan chicken
(Serves 2, about 200 cals per serving)

Moroccan Spice Rub
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp dried ground ginger
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fennel
1 tsp sesame seed
1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom pods
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and it should keep for about 3 months.

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (halved)
5 tbsp Moroccan Spice Rub
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey

Marinate chicken breasts in lemon juice and honey for at least an hour. Bake in a shallow baking-pan covered with foil for at least 45 minutes at 350°.
Cous cous salad
(Serves 2, about 300 cals per serving)

2/3 cups dried whole wheat cous cous
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cup diced Persian cucumbers
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1. Cook cous cous according to package directions. Set aside to cool and flake with a fork.
2. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, cous cous, fresh mint, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice.
4. Pour olive-lemon mixture into cous cous salad, toss to combine. Throw in feta cheese and combine if desired.

Mint Yogurt Sauce
(serves 2, about 70 cals per serving)

1/4 cup fresh mint
3/4 cup unsweetened soy yogurt (or low-fat yogurt that is not sweetened)
1/2 tsp dried dill
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

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