We have a love hate relationship with pearl (Israeli) couscous. Some of us love it, others hate it. Recently one of the haters was away for the weekend, so we seized the opportunity to make this delicious salad, which has pearl couscous as a key ingredient.
This falls firmly in the ‘throw everything in a bowl and have dinner on the table in 30 minutes’ category. Here, the chicken is marinated in garlic and lemon, but you can use a spice mix instead. And while it’s sitting in the fridge, you chop the vegetables and prepare the couscous. Pearl couscous has a very pale colour, however it darkens when you lightly fry it prior to adding the water needed to cook it. It doesn’t take long to colour up, so be sure to keep your eye on the pot and stir regularly to avoid burning it.
Whenever I fry chicken on top of the stove I find that the oil splatters everywhere and you are left with a big mess to clean up afterwards. A simple solution is to get a piece of baking paper, scrunch it up, and run it quickly under the tap to make it damp. Shake off the excess water, spread out the paper and lay it over the chicken. Goodbye splatter.
When I first made this, it was all about cooking what we had to hand, which is why the dressing is a couple of tablespoons of pesto – there happened to be leftover pesto in the fridge. Chicken and pesto go so well together, it was calling to be used. Enjoy!
- 1 chicken breast
- 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- olive oil
- 150 g cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cucumber, chopped into small pieces
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 250 g pearl couscous
- 1 - 2 tablespoons pesto
- handful of baby spinach leaves
- In a bowl mix together the zest of the lemon and the juice of one half, crushed garlic, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Put the chicken breast between 2 pieces of cling film and bash it so that the thick end becomes the same thickness as the narrower end. I use a rolling pin but anything heavy will do the job. Add the whole chicken breast to the marinade mixture. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet. Set aside to cool.
- Place the cooled couscous, tomatoes, cucumber and onion in a salad bowl. Mix together.
- Cook the chicken breast in a heated frying pan on a medium heat, 5 minutes each side, or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and leave to rest for a couple of minutes.
- Slice the chicken breast and add it, and the juices from the plate, to the salad. Add 1 -2 tablespoons of pesto, and mix thoroughly. Add the spinach leaves and the juice of half a lemon. Gently mix through.