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Weeknight dinners: polenta-crusted chicken with toasted couscous salad

My busybee lifestyle means that I never have as much time as I’d like (if any!) for cooking during the week, so I’m always on the hunt for quick and easy but also tasty and healthy recipes for weeknight dinners. I had this combo for dinner the other night and it was delicious, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

Toasted couscous salad

(Note: the original recipe calls for “fried” couscous, but I modified it to toasted couscous by reducing the amount of oil it is cooked in to make it more waistline-friendly)

You will need:

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups couscous
  • 4 tbsp cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2/3 cup ricotta salata, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (note: you can use feta instead- I personally like it better!)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice from 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Bring chicken broth and salt to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Remove pan from heat, stir in couscous and cover for about 5-6 minutes until the liquid had been absorbed and couscous is tender. Fluff and de-lump couscous with a fork.

Heat 4 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet, and sautee garlic for 1-2 minutes until golden. Remove and discard garlic. Increase the heat to high, add couscous and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until couscous is toasted and light brown. Transfer couscous to a large serving bowl and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Add the ricotta or feta, cucumber, sundried tomatoes, parmesan and basil.

To make the dressing, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper and pour over salad. Toss well.

Crispy polenta-crusted chicken

(Note: original recipe includes a fried rosemary lemony salt that is sprinkled on the chicken, which I have eliminated from the version below)

You will need:

  • Vegetable oil, for sauteeing chicken
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • Zest of 1/2 large lemon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup  instant polenta or fine cornmeal

In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add the polenta/cornmeal and toss until the chicken is coated. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a non-stick skillet, add half the chicken and cook until golden and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Allow the cooked chicken to rest on paper towel for a few minutes to drain excess oil, then serve with the couscous salad. Add some mixed greens to your plate for some fresh veggies.

In good health,


* Original recipes courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis



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November 2011
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