Thank jeebus that the heat wave is over and I can get back to my normal life. I’m alright sweating to death in July, but New York is supposed to still be pretty alright in June. Last weekend I thought I was going to pass out. But, everything is right in the world because it’s Thursday, and that means Hannibal is on. It is my absolute new favorite thing. Kramer and I can’t get enough. Every night, after we’ve done everything we need to do, gone to the gym, made dinner, whatever, and finally sit down on the couch, we lament the fact that it is not yet Thursday and there is no new Hannibal to watch. Is it weird to get so involved in a television show? Not for us. I’ve gotten as many people hooked on the show as possible so we can speculate with them as to what is going to happen, although I suppose we have some idea (or do we). Summer is usually a wasteland for good dramas, but we still have three episodes of Hannibal left, and I am going to savor them like Hannibal would a nice plate of liver with fava beans and a nice chianti. I’m even reading Red Dragon right now, at the suggestion of a friend who loves the books, so obviously the next step are the other books. I think I will have plenty to do this summer. I know that you were super worried about my after-work free time. Well, fear not. I’ve got my books and my stories, and for now, the ability to leave my windows open all day to let a little bit of a breeze come in.
Last week, though, when it was sweltering, this is what I made on Sunday for Kramer and I to eat for lunch during the week. I made a massive pot of it and we tore through it happily. I poached the chicken breasts in water and spices, then removed them and cooked the couscous in the leftover broth of lots of flavor. To that, I added kalamata olives (side note: autocorrect suggested ‘Kalamazoo’ for kalamata, hah!), grape tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumbers, and bell peppers, with a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil, of course, and a large pinch of fleur de sel. I felt full and satisfied after a nice, cold serving of this each day at work. Some days I put it over a green salad, other days I ate it as it, and some days I even drenched it in a little nice balsamic vinegar – the couscous soaks it up and becomes even more delicious. I’m always trying to make our brown bags a little more interesting while still keeping some semblance of a healthy, well balanced meal. I’m pretty sure that this did the trick, and it keeps well for at least a week, so make a big batch and see for yourself.
So, on to the salad.
Poach your chicken breasts, then cook the cous cous in the leftover broth.
Toss the cooked and cooled quinoa with your vegetables, chopped chicken, and feta cheese.
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2-3 cups reserved chicken broth
- 2 cups couscous
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 stalks of scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 1 cucumber, halved and sliced
- 1½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- First, prepare your chicken. Combine your spices and rub them all over the chicken. In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and add in the chicken breasts. Cook on each side for 5 minutes, then cover with just enough water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook the chicken for an additional 15-20 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the water and reserve 4 cups of the chicken broth water.
- Add 2 cups of the broth back to the pot and bring to a boil. Add in the couscous, stir to combine, and remove the pot from the heat. Stir, cover, and allow to sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes. Taste the couscous and if it's not tender yet, add a tablespoon or two more water, stir, and cover for another 5 minutes. When the couscous is tender, drizzle with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and fluff lightly with a fork. Fold in the scallions, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, feta, salt, pepper flakes, and ground black pepper. Taste and add more spices or olive oil if needed. Chop up your chicken and add it to the couscous. Keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.