Can’t really call this a recipe, not going to try! It’s a dish that is standing the test of time in my house and amongst my delightfully diverse circle of family and friends. In many guises I have offered this to people, and never – not even once, has it been rejected. It’s hearty and healthy, lively and mellow – and the combination of ingredients deliver such a blast of nutrients and all round goodness it’s difficult not to ignore the occasional high fat content of elements like feta, pine nuts and olive oil.
It is basically a salad – with 3 core components – the cous cous, the veg base and the protein, in today’s case chicken – oh and a simple dressing, so maybe 4 components? It’s a case of prep all 3 (4?) and bung them together. It also stays deliciously fresh in the fridge for a couple of days of substantial chilled lunches.
Starting with the veg. In a huge bowl easy to get your hands stuck into for a bit of gentle tossing – throw a finely half-moon sliced red onion, a few slices of roasted red and yellow peppers, a small bunch each of fresh mint and basil, a decent sized bag of green leafy – I like a combo of spinach, watercress and rocket, seeds from a whole pomegranate (or one of those fab ready picked pots of seeds is perfect), a cubed pack of feta. Prep and put to one side.
Marinate 2 chicken breasts with a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, zest and juice of a lemon, plenty of salt and pepper and a heaped tablespoon of sumac. Sumac is your hero spice here, it’s bitter, sour, zesty and unlike anything else, perfect with this dish. Pan fry or grill the chicken until cooked but still very juicy, then rest for a few minutes before slicing thinly.
Cous cous – my brother in law Tim’s nemesis. I’ve encouraged my husband to tolerate it over the years, and in this meal it’s a winner. I use a whole wheat grain, add salt, sumac and a chicken stock cube, the add boiling water to cover, fling on some cling film and leave to steam for 5 mins or so.
For the dressing, mix olive oil, mint sauce, lemon juice and balsamic until fully combined.
Mix all the ingredients as artfully as your skills and hunger level will allow, fling into salad bowls and top with an extra drizzle of dressing.
Scoff – feeling equally virtuous and indulgent.
Options – I have also made this with salmon, cod, and lamb – either leg steaks of loin fillet grilled or pan-fried to a pink medium rare.