Monday, March 22, 2010

Treasured Recipes: Couscous-Stuffed Chicken w/Feta, Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olives

If you're a food lover and bride-to-be, then listen up!  Some of my most treasured wedding gifts were recipes from my family and friends.  Back in October, I was fortunate enough to be given a gorgeous bridal shower by a wonderful group of ladies, and each invitation was accompanied by a recipe card.  Guests filled out the cards with one (or sometimes two!) of their favorites, and brought them to the shower to be placed in a recipe card box next to the guest book.  I just loved it!

The recipe below is from my long-time family friends, neighbors and Israel natives, the Zreik's.  Growing up, I was close friends with their daughter, Maya, and spent many an evening at their house for dinner.  It was their that I was introduced to pita bread, couscous, grape leaves, Greek yogurt, and tabbouleh.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

So needless to say, I was especially excited about this one because not only do I have fond memories of eating with the Zreik's, but both Matt and I love every ingredient in this recipe (his favorite food is "olives").  I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did! It's a keeper for sure.

Couscous-Stuffed Chicken w/Feta, Sun-Dried Tomato & Kalamata Olives

For the Couscous:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. kalamata olives, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. chicken stock
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if desired)
1- 10 oz. box of couscous
4 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped
1/2 lb. crumbled feta

For the Chicken:
4 - 6oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter

For the Sauce: 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. lemon juice
6 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes
4 tbsp. kalamata olives, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled

In saucepan over medium heat add olive oil, when hot, add the garlic & red pepper flakes.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes and saute a few minutes more.  Add olives and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the box of couscous, turn ff heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork and season with salt and pepper.  Spread 2 cups on large plate, add in 1/2 lb. feta and let cool. Keep the remaining hot to serve with chicken.  

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Trim chicken w/ a boning knife, if needed.  Start at top of breast and carefully make a length-wise cut from top to bottom and making a pocket about 2 inches, making sure not to pierce the other side of the breast.  When couscous is cool enough to handle, carefully spoon couscous mixture into pocket.  Even out the stuffing by gently moving it around with your hands.  Wipe off any excess couscous from outside of breasts and season with salt and pepper.  

Heat olive oil and butter in the saute pan and brown off both sides of chicken.  Place chicken on baking sheet and place in oven for 20 min.  While chicken is baking, make the sauce.  

In saute pan that you cooked chicken breasts in, heat and add garlic.  Deglaze with white wine and add lemon juice.  Reduce by 1/3.  Add in sun-dried tomatoes, let reduce for 2 to 3 min.  Add the olives, turn off heat, add the butter, stir to combine.  

To serve, place warmed couscous on plate, cut chicken breast in half, top with sauce, crumble remaining feta cheese over.  

The only thing I forgot to do was season the chicken! It still turned out great, but I'd recommend adding the salt and pepper. 


DIY: Roasted Tomato & Garlic Hummus

One of my favorite middle-eastern treats is hummus.  It's a great, healthy snack, and makes for a tasty appetizer, too!  Next time you're thinking about picking some up, try making it yourself. It's super easy, and only takes minutes.  This recipe is one I threw together after discovering my love for roasted tomatoes from my previous post.


Roasted Tomato & Garlic Hummus
1 can garbonzo beans
2 medium tomatoes, roasted
1 garlic clove, papery outermost skin removed, but left unpeeled.
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Slice tomatoes into 8 wedges and discard the seeds. Place the tomatoes and garlic in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.

Rinse the beans under cold water (rinsing removes a good amount of the sodium). Let drain for a few minutes.

Place beans into food processor (or blender) along with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Pulse until creamy.  Add garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper and remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and pulse until desired texture is achieved.  If you want the hummus to be completely creamy, you can pulse all ingredients at once. I like the bits of tomato, so I prefer to add the remaining ingredients after the beans are blended.