Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mediterranean Chicken Couscous

I was first introduced to couscous a few years ago, and it has become one of my favorite foods. It is really healthy, versatile, and super quick to make. Most of the couscous you find in the grocery store is instant and is cooked by simply adding boiling water or broth and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Instant couscous has been pre-steamed and dried. By soaking it in liquid it simply re-hydrates the couscous.

Couscous is small pasta that is made from semolina flour. The origin of couscous is not known, but it most likely originated from North Africa. According to Wikipedia, the dish is a traditional staple food throughout West Africa, Sahel, France, Spain, the Canary Islands, Portugal, Madeira, and Italy (particularly in western Sicily's Province of Trapani), as well as many other countries in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and India.

We recently made a trip to Trapani, Sicily where fish couscous is very popular. It was pretty fishy tasting so it wasn't my favorite kind of couscous.
The recipe below has a very good mix of flavors. The fresh basil, lemon juice, and lemon rind flavors are very light and a nice compliment to the feta cheese and other ingredients. It is figure friendly and a perfect quick meal.

Mediterranean Chicken Couscous

1 3/4 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 (5.6 ounce) package toasted pine nuts and couscous mix
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 1 rotisserie chicken)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (4 ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. pepper
Garnish with fresh basil leaves

Heat broth and seasoning packet from couscous in the microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes or until broth begins to boil. Place couscous in a large bowl, and stir in broth mixture. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork; stir in chicken and next 6 ingredients. Serve warm or cold. Garnish if desired. 

Tip: You'll need to buy a 2/3 ounce package of fresh basil and 1 rotisserie chicken to get the right amount of basil and chicken for this recipe. Substitute 4 tsp. of dried basil if you can't find fresh.

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