Couscous with Grilled Chicken, Apricots, Chickpeas and Toasted Almonds

Couscous with grilled chicken, chickpeas, apricots, toasted almonds, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Couscous with grilled chicken, chickpeas, apricots, toasted almonds, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Couscous with grilled chicken, chickpeas, apricots, toasted almonds, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

What’s better than a dish you can serve either warm or chilled? A number of dishes are seasonal so I get used to having them a certain way. My Couscous with Grilled Chicken, Apricots, Chickpeas, and Toasted Sliced Almonds fits into this category. It’s a flavorful chilled salad in the summer and a satisfying warm entree in the winter. Either way, it goes great with oven-warmed pita and creamy hummus!

In this recipe, I use Whole Foods Market‘s organic dried Turkish apricots and Trader Joe’s Dry Toasted Sliced Almonds. Also, I used canned organic chickpeas from Whole Foods. And there’s no question that a Whole Foods’ free range organic chicken breast was the star of this recipe.

Whole Foods Market's Organic Turkish Apricots (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Whole Foods Market’s Organic Turkish Apricots (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Trader Joe's Dry Toasted Sliced Almonds (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Trader Joe’s Dry Toasted Sliced Almonds (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I’m going to detail two different preparations for this dish. The “salad” recipe is served chilled. The “entree” recipe is served warm. Both use the same ingredients except lemon juice is added to the chilled version and dry white wine is added to the warm version.

Toasted sliced almonds, canned chickpeas, sliced shallots, and dried apricots (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Toasted sliced almonds, canned chickpeas, sliced shallots, and dried apricots (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Grilling the chicken in a grill pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Grilling the chicken in a grill pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

In the chilled salad version, the chicken is grilled and the couscous is cooked, and then both are chilled. The dried apricots and cilantro are chopped, shallots caramelized, and almonds toasted. The ingredients are all mixed together with the chickpeas, lemon juice and some honey (optional) and left to chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight. This version of the dish is served chilled, and hits the spot on a hot day.

In the warm entree version, the chicken is grilled, the couscous is cooked, and both are set aside. The shallots are sweated in some olive oil, then chickpeas and chicken stock/broth are added along with some dry white wine. The apricots, toasted almonds, and cilantro are added after the mixture reduces a bit. Then the couscous is mixed in and warmed through. This version of the dish is served warm. It’s a nice dish on a cold winter evening.

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Chilled SALAD of Couscous with Grilled Chicken, Apricots, Chickpeas, and Toasted Almonds

Ingredients:

3/4 c couscous
1/2 c water
1/2 c chicken stock/broth
2 T canola oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
salt and pepper
1 T olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 c canned chickpeas
4 oz. dried apricots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (or fresh, if available)
1/2 c thinly sliced toasted almonds, 2 T reserved for garnish
2 T chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T honey (optional)

Method:

1. Season chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. On the BBQ grill, or in a grill pan on the stove, grill the chicken breast over medium heat until brown on both sides and cooked through. Remove from heat.
3. While chicken is grilling, heat the water and chicken broth/stock to boiling in another pan.
4. When the water and chicken broth/stock comes to a boil, stir in couscous, cover with a lid, and remove pan from heat. Let stand, covered for at least 5 minutes. (Or follow the preparation instructions on your couscous container for 2 servings of couscous substituting chicken broth/stock for half of the water.)
5. Heat olive oil in a small saute pan and saute the shallots until slightly caramelized. Remove shallots from heat and set aside to cool.
6. When chicken is done, move it to a cutting board and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.
7. Cool chopped chicken in a covered bowl in the fridge.
8. When the couscous is ready, fluff and let cool in a large glass bowl or plastic container.
9. When the couscous is cool, combine it with the chilled chicken, cooled shallots, drained chickpeas, chopped dried apricots, toasted almonds, chopped cilantro, lemon juice and honey (optional).
10. Chill at least 4 hours, or overnight, stirring once or twice.
11. Serve with a bit more chopped cilantro and reserved toasted almonds on top.

Serves 4 as a salad course or side dish. Works well as a buffet item and you can double or triple the recipe for a larger crowd.

Variations: Omit the grilled chicken and use vegetable broth/stock instead of the chicken broth/stock for a vegetarian option. Substitute parsley for the cilantro. If you don’t want to use honey, use agave syrup or another sweetener.

Grilled Chicken, couscous, apricots, chickpeas, toasted almonds, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Grilled chicken, couscous, apricots, chickpeas, toasted almonds, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

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Warm ENTREE of Couscous with Grilled Chicken, Apricots, Chickpeas, and Toasted Almonds

Ingredients:

3/4 c couscous
1 c water
2 T canola oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 T olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 c chicken stock/broth
1/4 c white wine
1 c canned chickpeas
4 oz. dried apricots, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 c thinly sliced toasted almonds, 2 T reserved for garnish
2 T chopped cilantro plus more for garnish

Method:

1. Season chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. On the BBQ grill, or in a grill pan with canola oil on the stove, grill the chicken breast over medium heat until brown on both sides and cooked through. Remove from heat.
3. While chicken is grilling, heat the water to boiling in another pan.
4. When water boils, stir in couscous, cover with a lid, and remove from heat. Let stand, covered for at least 5 minutes. (Or follow the preparation instructions on your couscous container for 2 servings of couscous.)
5. When chicken is done, move it to a cutting board and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Keep warm.
6. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
7. Saute the shallots until translucent and soft.
8. Add the chickpeas, white wine, and chicken broth/stock. Simmer about 15 minutes until slightly reduced.
9. Stir in the chicken, apricots, toasted almonds, and cilantro. Cook about 5 more minutes.
10. Add the couscous to the mixture, stir, and heat through.
11. Serve with additional chopped cilantro and the reserved toasted almonds.

Serves 2 – 3 as an entree or main course. For a buffet, keep it warm over a chafing dish, and stir often.

Variations: Omit the chicken and use vegetable stock for a vegetarian dish. Substitute parsley for the cilantro.

Warm grilled chicken couscous salad with apricots, chickpeas, toasted almonds, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Warm grilled chicken couscous salad with apricots, chickpeas, toasted almonds, and cilantro (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2013)

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