Chicken with Israeli Couscous, Spinach, and Feta

The hubby and I are trying desperately to ween ourselves off of our vacation diet (and our jet lag!). China wasn’t as bad as lets say Italy, where I justified to myself nearly every day that it was a gelato day, but it was pretty bad. I vowed that the first week back I would not find a reason to gorge myself silly on the candy corn and Halloween candy hanging around our house, but rather eat lots of fresh veggies and cook only healthy meals.

Given that I was falling asleep at all the wrong hours of the day I was also on the search for healthy, easy to make dinners and stumbled on a great one in Cooking For Two. It only used one pot (score 1), it was already cut for only 2 portions (score 2), and was relatively healthy (score 3).

I think the hardest part of the dish was finding the Israeli couscous! The technique for cooking the boneless, skinless chicken breasts is probably one of the best one’s I have come across. The chicken was perfectly cooked and soo juicy – delish! This will be the only way I prepare boneless, skinless chicken breasts from now on.

Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for (1) solving my dry boneless, skinless chicken breast problem and (2) creating some a delicious and pseudo healthy recipe. Add another one to the permanent rotation.

Chicken with Israeli Couscous, Spinach, and Feta (from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2009)

Serves 2

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 (6 to 8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

Salt and pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

3/4 cup Israeli couscous (I finally found mine at Trader Joe’s you can also use Orzo)

1 shallot, minced (about 3 tbsp)

3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tbsp)

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

6 oz baby spinach (about 6 cups)

2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with one breast at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook until well browned on the first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken breasts, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook for 6 to 8 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate, tent loosely with foil, and let rest in the warm oven while preparing the couscous.

Wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Add 1 tbsp more oil and the couscous to the skillet and toast over medium heat until light golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shallot, 2 tsp of the garlic, 1/4 tsp of the lemon zest, and 1/8 tsp of the pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk in 1 tbsp of the lemon juice, remaining 1 tbsp oil, remaining 1 tsp garlic, remaining 1/4 tsp lemon zest, and remaining 1/8 tsp pepper flakes together in a small bowl.

Stir the spinach, one handful at a time, into the skillet and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the feta and remaining 1 tbsp lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the couscous between two plates and top with the chicken. Drizzle with lemon juice mixture and serve.

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