Saturday, July 9, 2016

Grilled Chicken Breast with Herb Pearl Couscous and Nectarine Caprese

This was a lovely dinner and while I wish I could claim rights to the nectarine Caprese, alas, I cannot, but I can claim how delicious it is! The sweet crunch of the nectarine adds a wealth of flavor. I love it. As you may recall, I have also created a citrus Caprese; it is not a true Caprese, of course, but it does have the balsamic, basil and mozzarella foundation. I digress, however. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had been away for seven days and had not cooked a thing, and I could not wait to get into my kitchen. Last Sunday, I made a simple pork shoulder steak dinner for my mother and those beauteous brown sugar crumble stuffed grilled peaches. I made this meal two days later and enjoyed every moment of it. My inspiration was the Caprese, but the center piece of the dish, to me, was my craving for couscous stuffed and baked bell peppers. I wanted to build a dish where these two luscious veg and pasta healthy"sides" could geld with a protein.  Chicken seemed the perfect idea. 

I used my simple spice mix:
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano (crushed between the palms)
1 teaspoon ground dried rosemary leaves
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

I wanted to add the ground cloves to the spice blend to give it an added perfume or aroma to calm and alleviate the smoke paprika and cumin aromas (which I love tremendously, mind you). 

I rubbed the chicken breasts on both sides with the spice mix and allowed them to come to room temperature. 

In the meantime, I sliced the tomatoes, cheese and cored the nectarines and, using my mandolin, I shaved all of the veg and sliced the cheese with my cheese knife. I arranged the tomatoes, basil, nectarine and cheese on the dish over a layer of fine extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic. I also drizzled evoo and balsamic over the Caprese. 

A view of the dish, Caprese on the left. 

I grilled the chicken breasts, four minutes per side over medium-high heat, and oven finished at 375-degrees for ten minutes. They turned out flavorful and moist internally. After resting the chicken, I sliced it to serve; I'd done the same thing with my mom's dinner a couple of days prior. Now for the star of the meal, the couscous stuffed bell peppers.  

I have to admit, I made couscous from a box.  There is no shame in it. (Smile) I added fresh herbs to it, followed the directions on the box, which made for a very swift operation. 

Pearl couscous with fresh herbs.  I never use the packet of flavoring that comes with it in the box. I always add my own fresh ingredients. 

After the couscous is done, which takes only a few short minutes, prep the washed bell peppers.  Slice a sliver off the bottom of the pepper so it stand up in a pan sturdily.  Remove the ribbing and seeds.  Be sure to save the top, if you wish.  It is flavorful and decorative. Add a little finely grated parmesan cheese to the bottom of the pepper and stuff the rest of the pepper, rounding above the pepper's rim, and top with more parmesan cheese, just for the fun and flavor of it!  Cap the pepper with the top, if you want. I put the cap on the first fifteen minutes then remove it the last five.  I cap it so the moisture remains in the pepper and the couscous and uncap it to thoroughly melt the cheese.  

Oven ready!  Bake for fifteen to eighteen minutes, pending the size of the peppers.  

Remove the pepper lid for the last five or so minutes to thoroughly melt the parmesan. 

Bake the peppers at 375-degrees for fifteen eighteen minutes, depending on the size of the pepper.  Fist size, fifteen, larger, eighteen.  Five minutes before it'd be done, remove the pepper lid and bake another five minutes. Remove and let them cool and set for a few minutes. Meanwhile, slice the chicken, if you have not done so already and plate as you wish. 

Garnish as you wish and serve!  Healthy, flavorful and pretty!  

Thank You, gentle viewers, for your time and consideration. As always, I am grateful for your visit!  Now, go cook something for someone you love!