Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chicken & Roasted Vegetable Couscous Salad

Chicken & Roasted Vegetable Couscous Salad

Sautéed chicken and a blend of roasted sweet potato, broccoli, corn and peppers combined into a main dish salad with couscous.

I thought I'd share a bit about how my cooking style changes once our weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share has ended for the season.

First, I give a big sigh of relief because I know I've made it through another season. I've nurtured my family with food grown by our farmers, our garden, our friends and a rogue compost bin. We have tried new foods with both successes and failures [the failures appear on my FB page, not on the blog].

Second, I'm still doing some vegetable triage. The remaining greens and root veggies in the crisper have priority over the squash and potatoes of the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve (SWSR) in my cold basement. When the fridge is cleared out (celeriac, a red cabbage and kohlrabi are the last holdouts) I'll plan meals based on the items in the SWSR and the freezer.  That's the key--plan meals.

Instead of winging it based on what needs to be used up NOW, I could take stock and thoughtfully plot out meals, thaw meats and vegetables, and work to eat down the supply of food in the house.

As if I will thoughtfully plan anything beyond what's for dinner tonight.

Even if I forget to plan ahead and end up just winging it for dinner, having bags of frozen chopped vegetables sure makes things easier. I can make quick soups using put up stocks and frozen chopped vegetables. The other night my girl wasn't feeling well [she claims she has the plague as she coughs daintily into her hand] and within an hour I had a turkey & wild rice soup, with curry and ginger, ready to eat thanks to my freezer.

This main dish salad works along the same lines. Using prepped and frozen CSA farm share vegetables (broccoli, corn and bell peppers) along with some sweet potatoes from the SWSR and a red onion I fixed us a hearty meal without too much pre-planning. Eating local vegetables while the frozen backyard turns into the muddy back yard--that's a Good Thing. [Three dogs and a muddy back yard? Not so much of a Good Thing.]

With luck, the foods I've canned and frozen will last until next summer, just in time for the CSA season to begin [note to self, mail check out this week to the farm!]. In the meantime I will be shopping for fruits, mushrooms, fresh salad and whatever else looks good or is marked down.
I'll keep blogging, too, sharing seasonal recipes all along the way.

Chicken & Roasted Vegetable Couscous Salad (serves 6 to 8)

6 cups peeled & cubed sweet potatoes
about 6 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
about ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 cups corn (no need to thaw if frozen)
2 cups chopped broccoli (ditto on the thawing)
1 cup chopped bell peppers (triple ditto)
1½ cups water (but if you have chicken stock handy, you could use that)
1 cup couscous
2 chicken breasts
2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup diced red onion

In a large bowl, toss sweet potato cubes with about 2 Tablespoons oil. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven (no need to preheat) with the temperature set to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. After 15 minutes, stir the potatoes around and add corn, broccoli and peppers to the baking sheet (you may need a second sheet if you prefer--I used two, but then I had to clean up two). Roast the vegetables, stirring every 15 minutes, until they are tender. This took me another 30 minutes. Set aside.
While the vegetables are roasting, add water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Set aside for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with lemon pepper seasoning on one side. In a medium skillet with about one Tablespoon of oil preheated to medium high heat, cook chicken breasts, seasoned side down for 4-5 minutes. Season the top side with lemon pepper seasoning, then flip and cook for another 5-8 minutes until juices run clear and internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
In a large bowl (you can use the same one from the potatoes, I'll never tell) combine 3 Tablespoons olive oil with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Toss the roasted vegetables, chicken and red onion with the dressing in the bowl, then add the fluffed couscous and toss gently. Taste--do you want a bit more salt or pepper? Adjust seasonings and serve. Leftovers reheat well.


  1. It's kind of nice having a respite from the fast pace of the CSA. Its also nice being able to buy and eat broccoli if I'm feeling like broccoli. That being said, I will be craving the CSA come April, maybe even March.

    I have one cabbage and three beets left and of course a plethora of squash.

    1. Meghan,
      I'm having fun exploring mushrooms and buying lettuce because I *feel* like eating a salad, not because I have salad greens.
      Good luck with the beets--I'd made a bet & blueberry smoothie for the family when my spouse suggested I Cheater Margarita Smoothify it, so we essentially had beet & blueberry smoothies. Close to your mimosas!