Veggie Packed Couscous with Lemon Oregano Chicken

Veggie Packed Couscous Salad with Lemon Oregano Chicken

One of the best parts about pilafs is how much good stuff you can pack into them, without the dish feeling overly heavy.

Simply cook a grain or starch, toss it with a whole bunch of veggies and herbs, drizzle with a flavorful dressing, and top with a protein of your choice.

Voila! You’ve got a balanced meal in a bowl.

Veggie Packed Couscous Salad with Lemon Oregano Chicken

This delicious recipe takes things to flavor town.

Tender, fluffy, buttery couscous, tossed with crisp tender broccoli and asparagus, sweet bell pepper and tomato, fresh cucumber, parsley, and green onion, briny olives, and tangy feta cheese. A drizzle of lemon-garlic-oregano dressing and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper ties it all together.

What makes it even better?

Marinating chicken in a lemon-garlic-oregano marinade, then grilling for extra smoky flavor, and serving on top of the couscous salad.

Sure, this dish requires a lot of chopping of veggies, but boy, is it worth it. And it makes A TON, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunches during the week. Enjoy!

Veggie Packed Couscous Salad with Lemon Oregano Chicken

Veggie Packed Couscous with Lemon Oregano Chicken

Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the couscous:

  • 10 ounce uncooked plain couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends removed, spears cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound broccoli, florets cut into 1/2 inch pieces, stems saved for another use
  • 2 small red bell peppers, seeded & diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 large English cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup halved kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 6 ounces crumbed feta

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pita bread (optional)

Instructions

For the chicken:

  • Add the chicken cutlets to a large ziplock bag or medium baking dish and set aside.
  • Whisk together the chicken marinade ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper) in a small bowl. 
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat well. Let rest at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the salad.

For the couscous:

  • Add the dry couscous, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter to a large heat-proof bowl. Pour two cups of boiling water over the couscous, cover with a large plate, and let steam for five minutes. When the couscous is done cooking, remove the plate, and fluff with a fork. Set aside and let cool.
  • Meanwhile, add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the chopped asparagus and broccoli, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are bright green and crisp tender. Add the broccoli and asparagus to the bowl with the couscous and let cool.
  • While the vegetables and couscous cool, make the dressing. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients (extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper) in a small bowl and set aside. 
  • When the vegetables and couscous are no longer piping hot, add the bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, green onion, parsley, and feta to the bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Finally, warm a grill pan over high heat on the stove. Add the chicken cutlets and cook, about 3 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through & has grill marks. Remove from the grill and let cool for 5 minutes. Slice into strips, and set aside. 
  • If desired, brush pita bread with plain or garlic olive oil and lightly grill. Serve on the side of the salads. 
  • When ready to eat, spoon the couscous into individual serving bowls, top with sliced chicken, and enjoy. 

Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with Fried Capers and Shrimp

Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with Fried Capers and Shrimp | Quick, pescatarian pasta dish, with creamy noodles, shrimp, and fresh basil. | ericajulson.com

Fried capers.

Have you tried them?

They are magical bites of crispy, salty, briny goodness.

And they make pasta amazing.

Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with Fried Capers and Shrimp | Quick, pescatarian pasta dish, with creamy noodles, shrimp, and fresh basil. | ericajulson.com

Especially simple pastas.

Like this spaghetti with lemon-parmesan sauce & pan seared shrimp.

The flavors of this dish, overall, are pretty basic:

  • Tart lemon
  • Salty and savory Parmesan cheese
  • Lusciously smooth & fruity olive oil
  • Buttery & slightly sweet shrimp
  • Fresh and vibrant basil

On their own, this combination of ingredients is pretty solid.

But, sprinkle a few crispy crunchy fried capers on top, and oooo baby, now your dish is SPECIAL.

Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with Fried Capers and Shrimp | Quick, pescatarian pasta dish, with creamy noodles, shrimp, and fresh basil. | ericajulson.com

This meal comes together in a snap.

Simply sauté some shallot, and cook the shrimp in the same pan, with a splash of white wine.

When the shrimp is just done cooking, add a pound of cooked spaghetti to the pan, with a little reserved pasta water. Pour in an easy sauce made from olive oil, parmesan, and lemon, and toss in a small handful of basil.

Stir until the noodles and shrimp are coated with a creamy, cheesy, lemony sauce and serve garnished with fresh basil and fried capers.YUM!!!

Lemon Parmesan Spaghetti with Fried Capers and Shrimp

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • Generous pour of organic canola oil for frying
  • 1 4-oz jar capers, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup sauvignon blanc white wine
  • 1 cup freshly chopped basil
  • Maldon sea salt, for serving
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, for serving

Instructions

  • Fill a small skillet with about 1/4 cup canola oil. Warm over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the capers (make sure they are well dried, or they will splatter in the oil) and fry for about 3-5 minutes, or until the capers are puffed open, darkened, and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried capers to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. 
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions, until al dente. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve 3/4 cup of pasta water before draining, then drain the pasta and set aside.
  • While the pasta cooks, add the 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a medium bowl & whisk until combined. Set aside for later.
  • When the pasta is done cooking, add the shallot and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and cook for just 1 or 2 minutes over medium heat until softened. 
  • Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add to the nonstick skillet containing the shallot. Increase the heat to medium-high, and let cook for about 2 minutes on the first side. Flip the shrimp, and add the wine to the skillet, letting it cook off while the shrimp cook on the second side, about another 2 minutes. 
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the pasta, lemon-olive oil-parmesan mixture, 1/4 cup reserved pasta water, and 1/2 cup of the fresh basil. Cook, tossing the pasta with the shrimp and sauce, until well combined. Let cook for a minute or two more, as needed, until the sauce has thickened slightly and coated the noodles. Add more reserved pasta water if the mixture is too dry. 
  • When the pasta is cooked to your liking, turn off the heat and transfer the pasta to serving bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 of the fried capers, 1/4 of the remaining fresh basil, and season with Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

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Easy Herbed Chicken and Rice

Easy Herbed Chicken and Rice in a Large Bowl

The key to always having dinner available on a busy weeknight?

Frozen chicken breasts + pantry staples.

They’ll get you through anything!

This delicious chicken & rice dinner was the result of an effort to clean out the fridge & pantry, and it’s freaking amazing.

Easy Herbed Chicken and Rice with Fresh Herbs

First pantry staples? Rice and broth.

Cooking rice in broth gives it WAY more flavor, and allows it to form the base of a pilaf without being boring.

Next up: carrots, celery, and onion.

Simply sauté over medium heat for like 30 minutes, until the carrots and onions are nicely caramelized and FULL of flavor.

Add frozen peas and minced garlic.

(Two more ingredients that are almost always on hand)

Dump in a large bowl & toss with the warm rice.

Stir in: lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.

This mixture alone is SO yummy, and makes a great side dish, but you can turn it into an easy meal by adding sautéed chicken pieces.

Enter, frozen chicken breasts.

I always always have a bag of these in the freezer. They are a LIFESAVER on busy weeknights

Simply defrost, cut into cubes, season with salt, pepper, and a little dried oregano, and dredge with a light coating of flour. Pan fry until golden and crispy, and toss into the rice pilaf.

When it’s all said and done, you’ve got a well balanced meal in a bowl. Protein + veggies + grains + healthy fats. Yum.

Easy Herbed Chicken and Rice with Vegetables

Easy Herbed Chicken and Rice

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white or brown rice
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 extra large carrots, diced
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
  • 1 medium bunch parsley, minced
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fat or oil of your choice (I used leftover olive oil from turkey confit, but regular olive oil, lard, or other animal fat would work as well)

Instructions

  • Add the rice and broth to a rice cooker and cook until done. Let sit on “warm” while you prep the rest of the dinner. (Alternatively, cook the rice in a saucepan according to package directions until tender, if done early, keep warm by storing in the oven or microwave).
  • As the rice cooks, add the carrots, celery, and onion to a large nonstick skillet along with 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each). Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are nicely caramelized and golden brown.
  • Add the frozen peas and garlic to the pan, and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and the peas are defrosted. Transfer the entire mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked rice, chopped parsley, fresh lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss to combine. Set aside. (I put mine in the microwave to keep it warm, but putting it in a turned-off oven works too).
  • Next, sprinkle the cubed chicken with the flour and season with about 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the dried oregano and toss to coat the chicken evenly.
  • Add the 2 tablespoons fat or oil of your choice to the same skillet that you browned the vegetables in. Warm over medium-high heat and add the chicken (don’t add any of the extra flour from the plate, as it will burn). Cook, stirring occasionally, until well golden brown on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the golden chicken pieces to the rice mixture and toss to combine. Spoon into bowls, and serve.
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