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. 

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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Pappardelle with Pork Ragu

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu

Guys, in case you haven’t heard, over 40% of California is finally out of the drought! Yahoo!

True, I live in Southern California precisely because it’s 75 and sunny pretty much all year, but I’ll admit I’ve been sort of digging the rain this month.

Lots of rain means evenings with the fireplace on, the smell of smoke wafting through the neighborhood, with a pop of coolness from the fresh rain.

It also means extra snuggles and movie nights, baking cookies, and simmering or braising delicious soups and stews for hours on end, decadent flavors filling the apartment and feeling like home.

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu Sprinkled with Maldon Sea Salt

If you’re like me, huddled up indoors on the weekend, chillaxing (and maybe Netflixing?), you should make this ragu.

Yep, I’m just putting it out there.

Making this ragu will make your whole weekend awesome.

Plus, it makes such a huge batch that it’s the perfect excuse for a dinner party.

Pappardelle with Slow Cooked Pork Ragu

Pork ragu starts with a whole pork shoulder, but it braises for hours and hours until the meat just falls apart into tender shreds.

It’s one of those meals you crave. The umami flavor of the sauce is off the charts, but well balanced with the acid from the red wine and sweetness of the tomatoes, carrots, and onion.

It cooks down into a thick ragu that’s able to stand up to the hearty pappardelle pasta. No wimpy thin sauces here, this bad boy thickly coats every noodle and guarantees tons of flavor in every bite.

The real secret to take this from great to mind-blowing, is the finishing touches. Get yourself some high quality extra virgin olive oil, some flaky Maldon sea salt, freshly grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and fresh basil. Decorate each bowl before serving, and get ready to have your mind blown.

P.S. Got extras?

This ragu freezes excellently. Simply place batches in freezer safe tupperware or ziplocks, making sure that all extra air is removed to prevent freezer burn. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months, removing 1 batch at a time as needed for easy weeknight dinners. You can toss it with any shape of pasta, and is even excellent served over polenta!

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu - Perfect for a Party!

Pappardelle with Pork Ragu

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time4 hrs 55 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 12
Author: Erica Julson

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs bone-in pork shoulder, cut into 3x3 inch pieces, bone and excess fat discarded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Generous sprinkles of kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely diced
  • 2 extra large carrots, finely diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb pancetta, diced
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups dry red wine, plus 1/4 cup reserved for end of cooking
  • 2 28- oz cans whole san marzano tomatoes
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 lbs dried or fresh pappardelle pasta
  • Blend of freshly grated parmesan and romano cheese, for serving (optional)
  • Maldon sea salt, for serving (optional)
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)
  • Minced fresh basil, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large enameled cast iron dutch oven and warm over high heat. While the oil heats, season the pork well on all sides with kosher salt and ground black pepper. When the oil is shimmering, add half the pork to the dutch oven and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the first batch of browned pork and set aside on a plate, and repeat with the second batch. Keep the pork set aside for later.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, celery, and pancetta to the same dutch oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is crispy and the vegetables have a nice golden brown color to them. Don't skimp on this step, since it is the base of the flavor of the dish. You want some dark bits on the bottom of the pan that you'll stir up later when you add liquid.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Next, add the garlic and tomato paste to the dutch oven and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Pour in the red wine and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the wine is mostly evaporated.
  • Add the 2 cans of tomatoes, including the sauce in the cans. Use a spatula to break up the tomatoes in the pot. Add the fresh thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and 2 cups of beef stock. Use tongs to nestle the pork pieces back into the dutch oven so they are fully submerged in the liquid, adding any accumulated juices to the dutch oven as well. Increase the heat to high and bring everything to a simmer.
  • Remove from the heat, partially cover the dutch oven with the lid, and place in the oven. Let braise for about 3 hours, until the pork is fall apart tender.
  • About 30 minutes before you're ready to eat, start cooking the pasta. You'll probably have to cook it in 2 batches unless you have a ginormous pot available. To cook it, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions (time will vary, depending on whether you bought fresh or dried pasta). When the first batch is done, drain the noodles and toss with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together while the 2nd batch cooks. When the second batch is done, drain, toss with a little bit of olive oil, and add to the first batch.
  • When the ragu is done braising, remove the dutch oven from the oven and set on the stove. Use a spoon and/or a pair of forks to shred all of the pork pieces into fine shreds and stir the sauce until evenly combined. Stir in a splash of balsamic vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons total, and another 1/2 cup of red wine. If the ragu is a little too thick, add more beef broth to thin to the consistency you desire (although this should be a thick sauce that will stand up to the thick pappardelle noodles and coat them well).
  • When ready to serve, add noodles to your bowl, top with a generous amount of ragu, drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with flaky maldon sea salt, and top with parmesan/romano cheese and a bit of fresh basil. Enjoy!
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