Marinated Chicken and Pearl Couscous Salad

Chicken Couscous tf

What is Pearl Couscous?  Pearl Couscous is not the traditional couscous associated with North African cuisine.  North African Couscous is a Berber preparation that consists of very small (1 mm.) granules of semolina wheat which are coated in wheat flour.  Pearl Couscous, also known as Israeli Couscous (or pitim) is made of baked wheat rather than semolina, and is similar to pasta. Its granules are much larger in size and maintain their individual texture and a firmness without sticking, which makes pearl couscous a good candidate for salads and a substitute for orzo or rice. In addition, pearl couscous can be toasted before simmering in liquid, which will impart a lovely golden hue and a satisfying toasted flavor that will hold up against spices and herbs.

Serve this dish for a family dinner or a party.  It’s delicious to eat, beautiful to present, and can easily be doubled to feed a crowd.  Try substituting other vegetables, such as chile pepper for more bite, sautéed zucchini or carrot. There is no single way to prepare this dish allowing you to be creative and resourceful with your refrigerator ingredients.

Marinated Chicken and Pearl Couscous Salad
Serves 4-6

4 large boneless chicken breasts, with skin

For the marinade:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander/cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Arrange chicken in a shallow dish.  Pour marinade over, turning chicken breasts to coat.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)  Remove chicken from marinade.  Arrange chicken breasts, skin side up, in one layer in a baking pan.  Bake 25 minutes, basting chicken with juices 1-2 times.  Turn on oven grill.  Continute cooking chicken under oven grill until skin browns and chicken is fully cooked, about 5-8 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, prepare the Pearl Couscous Salad

Pearl Couscous Salad:

2-1/2 cups giant pearl couscous
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 cups water
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced
8 green onions (scallions), ends trimmed, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped

Kalamata olives
Italian Parsley or Cilantro leaves, whole

Prepare Couscous:
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add couscous and cook, stirring, until couscous in golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients.  Combine well and adjust seasoning to taste.

Assemble Chicken Couscous Salad:
Arrange couscous on a large serving platter.  Cut chicken breasts in 1/2″ slices and place in the middle of the platter over the couscous.  Drizzle juices from chicken over chicken and couscous.  Garnish with Kalamata olives and parsley and cilantro leaves.

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