Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

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While housesitting for my friends a few weeks ago, I took advantage of their awesome vegetable garden to make a few dishes using fresh kale snipped right off the plant. I’m awfully jealous of anyone with a vegetable garden these days — I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and I love the idea of growing and eating your own produce and eating “in season” instead of buying something subpar from the grocery store. In fact, when my parents were visiting, we bought four little herb plants so I could attempt to have at least that on hand — cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and basil. The cilantro is thriving…we’ll see if I kill everything else. šŸ™‚

So, there was no way I was letting this opportunity pass me by when I had a garden at my fingertips and an open invitation from my friends to pick and eat whatever I wanted. I found this great recipe for kale and couscous with green garlic dressing on the Naturally Ella blog, and it was a perfect fit for my list of ingredients. And while I love Israeli couscous, I switched it up for orzo in my version since I had some on hand in the pantry.

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The flavors in this dish are really fresh and light, with tang from the feta, crunch from the kale and nice acidity from the dressing (I used scallions since I didn’t have green garlic). It’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t feel like it since the chickpeas add a nice meaty texture.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, any will do (white wine, red wine, sherry, etc.)
  • Sub out the couscous for your small pasta/grain of choice — regular couscous, noodles, etc.
  • Buy kale fresh from the farmers market or steal from your friend’s garden

Kale and Couscous (or Orzo) with Green Garlic Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kale, de-stemmed and shredded
  • Ā½ cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • Ā½ cup chickpeas (drained, if using canned)
  • Ā¼ cup feta

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ā…› teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons green garlic (or Ā¼ cup green onions)

Instructions
Place couscous in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook until couscous is tender, 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
While couscousĀ is cooking, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, and minced garlic. (You can also whiz the green garlic in the food processor and then add the other dressing ingredients.)

Once couscous is done cooking, toss with kale. Let sit until kale is slightly wilted. Add in dressing, feta and chickpeas. Toss all together and serve.Ā If you want it warm, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add in chickpeas, cooking for 1-2 minutes until heated through. Add in kale and cook until slightly wilted. Toss with couscous and dressing.

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Couscous Stuffed Chicken Breast with Feta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

I made this Mediterranean feast for my friend Kim last week, courtesy of a Guy Fieri recipe. The chicken was unbelievably tender and juicy (perfectly done despite my paranoia about cooking chicken all the way through) and the sauce…oh the sauce. It’s what made the dish. A combo of white wine, lemon and garlic, then add in sun-dried tomatoes (the liquid makes them plump up), olives and a touch of butter at the end — it’s a TON of flavor. You’ve got to like olives to give this a go, but if you do, you’ll love it.

I’m not a big fan of stuffing chicken — it’s kind of a pain and I never manage to make the “pocket” quite right, but it actually worked out pretty well for me, despite one chicken breast being on the smaller side, which makes the stuffing part much more difficult.

End result: super tasty. I love the tang and acidity of the sun-dried tomatoes and salty olives and feta, with a little crust on the chicken…delish!

TW’s Tips

  • Try to pick chicken breasts that are on the bigger side to make the stuffing part easier.
  • I made the couscous the day ahead to save some time and reheated it in the oven in a dish covered in foil while the chicken was cooking. (I stuffed the chicken with cold couscous.)
  • Give the chicken a nice browning on the stovetop before you put it in the oven — not only gives the chicken good flavor but you cook the sauce in the same pan and scape up all the yummy bits when you deglaze with the wine.

Couscous Stuffed Chicken Breast with Feta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

Ingredients
For the couscous:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (10-ounce) box couscous
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled

For chicken:

  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For the sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 6 tablespoons julienned sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled, for garnish

Directions

For the couscous:Ā In a saucepan over medium heat add olive oil, when hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and saute a few minutes more. Add olives and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the box of couscous, turn off heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork, and season with salt and pepper. Spread 2 cups on large plate, add in 1/2 pound feta, and let cool. Keep the remaining hot to serve with chicken. (Put in covered casserole and reheat in oven last 10 minutes with chicken.)

For the chicken:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Trim chicken with a boning knife, if needed. Start at top of breast and carefully make a lengthwise cut from top to bottom and making a pocket about 2 inches, making sure not to pierce the other side of the breast. When couscous is cool enough to handle, carefully spoon couscous mixture into pocket. Even out the stuffing by gently moving it around with your hands. Wipe off any excess couscous from outside of breasts and season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil and butter in saute pan and brown off both sides of chicken. Place chicken on baking sheet and place in oven for 20 minutes.

While chicken is baking, make the sauce.

For the sauce:
In saute pan that you cooked chicken breasts in, heat and add garlic. Deglaze with white wine and add lemon juice. Reduce by one third. Add in sun-dried tomatoes, let reduce for 2 to 3 minutes, add the olives, turn off heat, add the butter and stir to combine.

To serve, place couscous from oven on plate, cut chicken breast in half, top with sauce, crumble remaining feta cheese over.