Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Dinner: Couscous with chicken and kale

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We're down to three people at Casa Hugo-Vidal; me, Youngest (until the end of August) and my delightful temporary lodger, the Very Smart Girlfriend (of the Smithie.) The VSG found a job here in Portland, and had to move fairly quickly to start, but finding an apartment in this overheated market is hard. She's staying with me for a while as she gets her feet under her and gets oriented to southern Maine.

What this means, culinarily speaking, is that I'm getting a bit more adventurous in what I'm cooking these days.  I stocked up on quinoa, rice noodles, bean noodles and couscous, which were NOT pantry staples in the days of three kids plus husband. And this summer, as in the past several years, I'm getting a CSA box every Wednesday loaded with fresh organic veggies I need to figure out some way to use. And by veggies, I mean kale, which will be a staple here until October.

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found on Spark, which I guess is for people who want to lose weight? I don't believe in fat-free, myself, so this dinner has loads of delicious olive and sesame oil. As usual, you can cook it like I do, and substitute anything for anything else. You're a grown-up, right? Don't let a recipe boss you around.

Chicken, couscous and kale salad

1 chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
flour, salt and pepper to coat
Olive oil and sesame oil (I love the flavor of the latter, but you can do all olive oil if you prefer)
1/2 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves OR 3 t pre-minced garlic (I love this stuff!)
1 c pearl (or Israeli) couscous
1 1/4 c chicken broth (I followed the directions for liquid on the container of couscous.)
6-8 leaves of kale cut into thin strips OR a half bag of spinach 
1 T cumin
Juice of 1/2 a lemon OR 2-3 t bottled lemon juice
1 c shredded or flaked parmesan cheese

Toss the chicken bites in the seasoned flour mix and saute them in oil until golden. Set aside and keep warm.

Add more oil to the pan in which you sauted the chicken; add couscous and let it brown for a couple minutes. Add onions, garlic, chopped kale, and cumin. Cook, stirring, until the kale wilts, You may need more oil as you go.

Add chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil. Cook 10-15 minutes, or whatever your couscous container directs.

When the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender, squeeze in the lemon juice and toss with the parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

I'm sorry to say I took several photos with Youngest's iphone, and could not get them to load. So you're getting stock photos instead of my actual ingredients. Just as in cooking, we improvise.

What are you making for Sunday dinner, dear readers?

43 comments:

  1. This sounds delicious, Julia, and so easy to make. Thanks for sharing the recipe . . . .
    What am I making for Sunday dinner? Shrimp fried rice and tuna sashimi; fresh blueberries for dessert.

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    1. I want to come over to your house for dinner, Joan!

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    2. You'd be welcome anytime . . . .

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  2. That sounds really good.

    I'm going out again tonight, the fourth time in eight days. You know how some weeks it feels as if no one remembers you're alive? Suddenly, there are lots of girlfriend times.

    However, we have a refrigerator full of Swiss chard, and garlic scapes. I thought the chard was going to be beets, or I'd never have planted so much (mislabeling on the seed packet, and they look just alike as seedlings). And the scapes are a bonus from the 100 cloves of garlic I planted in the fall (next year I'll have enough to sell). I think I could use both in this recipe, in place of the kale and onions, so thanks for the idea, Julia!

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    1. I am overwhelmed with garlic scapes, so if you know a recipe that will use up a lot of them, please pass it on.

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    2. I hope you'll see this.

      There are a lot of recipes online, but this one looks like it would use the most scapes the fastest, and the pickled scape idea gets rave reviews:

      https://growagoodlife.com/pickled-garlic-scapes/

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  3. Julia, I'll bet that is yummy!

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    1. It is! I was especially pleased with the way the breaded chicken turned out, nice and juicy. I often make dinner salads during the summer, and I usually stir-fry chicken for those, but the last time I decided on chicken caesar salad, I breaded the chicken as in this recipe. I was very happy with the results.

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  4. Haven't got a clue as to tonight's dinner. It will probably depend on what we buy at the grocery store.

    The couscous looks yummy! But there is no way I'd get my crew to eat it.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. That's why it's just now making an appearance, Mary. If Youngest doesn't like it, well, there's some pasta salad in the frig.

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  5. I don't have couscous at hand but I have quinoa.
    I'll try your recipe with quinoa and spinach, it should be good.

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    1. Quinoa sounds like a great substitute!

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  6. Julia, you've read my mind--I was thinking--what can I do with some chicken and some kale? Now I know--thanks!

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  7. Greek shrimp with fresh chopped tomatoes, basil and parsley from the garden, green onions, garlic, and feta cheese.

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  8. Yum! Sounds amazing! But… Cooked couscous or not?

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    1. Oh, I see. Brown uncooked couscous? That’s interesting!

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    2. Brown, then it's boiled in the chicken broth. I think it's to soak in the other flavors a bit more. When I've made it, the couscous is very flavorful that way.

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  9. This sounds yummy, Julia! It also sounds like it's too much time to stand over the stove for me in Texas today. But I promise I'll save it for a day when the temps won't be flirting with 100 outside and 78 inside. Is that the chicken in the photo, or did somebody add unauthorized mushrooms? That would also be lovely.

    Margaret Turkevich, how about that recipe for Greek shrimp?

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    1. When it's really hot, it's dinner salads or tuna salad all the way for me, Gigi.

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    2. Hot is a relative term in Maine. Means you can turn off the heat

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    3. Maine is where I dream of going this time of year, when I want to cool off.

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  10. As a dedicated carnivore, this post only inspired me to want a cheeseburger in opposition to all this healthy stuff. A nice greasy cheesy beef patty with lots of crispy bacon and some mustard. Well, for lunch anyway.

    Now if only someone wanted to make me one. :D

    I'm likely going to be lazy tonight for dinner and whip up some mac and cheese to compound the unhealthy aspects of my food intake.

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    1. Jay, traditionally, burgers are a major component of our summer diet - Ross loved to grill of a summer evening. I, however, have never even lit charcoal, and we have an old-fashioned grill that's all about the expertise of the cook - no bells and whistles. I need to have some male friends come over and give me a lesson in BBQ.

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    2. I tend to just cook them up in a frying pan and save having to battle the bugs outside. Or go to my regular hangout and buy a burger there. :D

      I really am lazy when it comes to cooking. The fastest and easiest way is my motto.

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  11. Dinner tonight? It's a rainy cool weekend, very humid but no matter when the high is 68 degrees. I was thinking about grilled Southwest turkey burgers, but maybe I should do something in the oven? Look people, we haven't even had breakfast yet.

    I'm reading the newest Fred Vargas in which Gratin Dauphinois plays a principle part. Do I dare?

    https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/gratin-dauphinois-recipe-1945900

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    1. Only if you like the feeling of your arteries slamming shut!

      I made it once for my father-in-law's 90th birthday dinner, along with prime rib and Brussels sprouts. It was so good, but man, is it rich.

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    2. I'll cut the cream with milk and halve the recipe for two of us. My arteries are clear, and that is much more of an act of choosing good grandparents than diet.

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  12. Hallie here: Gratin Daupinois! I make a version of it. It's not hard but you need a mandolin to slice the potatoes thin and a good heavy pan to bake it in. Tonight's Sunday dinner will be in an airport :-P - I'm returning from giving a 4-day workshop for the fabulous Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime (Capitol Crimes). Feeling amped!

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    1. I tossed my mandolin, which I hated with a passion, I but have a brand new food processor with an adjustable slicing blade. What's your recipe Hallie?

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  13. Tonight I'm thinking ground beef enchiladas. One of my husband's favorites (as much as one can find out from a husband). Making up for me going to a music night with my friends last night and he having to fend for himself.

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  14. I'm with Gigi. It's too hot to cook. My son is nagging me to go to the store. I think I'll load up on tuna; tuna salad sounds good. Watermelon, definitely. I'll probably kill the bottle of vinho verde tonight. I am on my own schedule since Frank is in south Texas with the Red Cross helping flood victims. A little out of our neighborhood but Spanish speakers were needed.

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    1. Tuna salad is a go-to for me in the summer!

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  15. "You're a grown-up, right? Don't let a recipe boss you around."

    Absolutely!
    Libby Dodd

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  16. Sounds delicious, Julia! I might actually convince me to make kale!

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  17. My husband is home, after 15 1/2 years living elsewhere for work, he has semi-retired, which means if he travels for the company occasionally, he gets to do it from home. It also mean that fixing meals is, well, back on the table. I had gotten used to eating at odd times, maybe even skipping lunch after a late breakfast. Hubby dear likes three meals a day, and while he fixes his own breakfast and can fix a sandwich for lunch (with me having the ingredients on hand to do so), he likes supper at a regular supper hour and as a main meal. So, for the past eight days he's been home, I've had to plan supper. I know, not a tragic problem to have, but still one I have gotten out of the habit of doing. I do plan on letting him have some nights to plan, or I think I am. My problem is a control issue, I think. Anyway, I have a new chicken casserole I like, and it's easy, with yummy ingredients like noodles and peas and carrots. The great news is that the peas and carrots are frozen, so it makes it super easy. Here's the link to the casserole: http://tiphero.com/creamy-chicken-noodle-casserole/ The recipe calls for only a sprinkling of bread crumbs. I covered the top with them.

    Julia, I need to incorporate couscous into a meal. I used to order a fish entree at a restaurant that served couscous with it, and I loved it. Your dish looks so inviting.

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    1. Wow, Kathy! That must be a huge adjustment. I hope you two still like each other, and that he respects the fact that you know how to run a home. I think that many years of separation would be so tough on a marriage. I salute your courage.

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  18. Oh, that looks fabulous! What time is dinner? LOL!

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  19. Just got back from Hersheypark. Went to M&T Bank picnic with a friend and some of her family. Went twice to the food pavilion with fruit, mac and cheese, fried chicken, hamburgers, drinks and ice cream. No dinner required!

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  20. CSA shares are so good, and the Terripin Farms newsletter always includes recipes. I freeze some of the surplus, for stews and soups in winter . . . and for all the recipes that involve using the oven, which I don't do during our hot Missouri summers. Kale chips in the toaster oven work out well.

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