Adapted from a recipe cut from our local newspaper, the Waltham Forest Guardian and a very quick and simple supper dish, once the oven is up to temperature. The original was a Waitrose recipe which I have since found on their website.
The original recipe suggested a vegetarian alternative, replacing the meat with butternut squashor sweet potato (and vegetable stock in place of chicken) but I added the sweet potato anyway. On the first occasion I made this recipe, I went to cut the parsley only to find the slugs had visited it first, so I improvised with some frozen peas for colour. These extra ingredients both worked well in the dish so I have included them in my version below. The background flavour of the lemon juice and zest was lovely with the other ingredients, especially the spicy Harissa Paste. (I bought my Harissa Paste ready mixed in an inexpensive handy tube at Akdeniz our excellent local Turkish supermarket, but here is a Harissa paste recipe showing the ingredients.) Without the addition of the sweet potato and peas, Waitrose suggested that a simple watercress or rocket salad would be a good accompaniment. Recently I have added some diced Pickled Lemon or Lemon & Lime, which is very simple to make, which gives a lovely lemony tang to the dish.
Vegetarian Variation: Use vegetable stock in place of chicken and replace the meat with butternut squash (as suggested in the original recipe), mushroom, tofu or stir toasted nuts into the mixture just before serving.
Spicy chicken with chickpea couscous
400g Chicken breast pieces, cut into chunks (Turkey is a good alternative)
1 large red onion cut into chunks
250g cherry tomatoes, halved (or larger tomatoes quartered)
410g tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 large sweet potato in small chunks
1 tsp Harissa Paste (or more, to taste) (original recipe uses 2tsp crushed chilli)
1 tbsp olive oil
½ chicken (or vegetable) stock cube (in 1 pint/550ml water)
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
Fresh chopped parsley
(125g/4ozs frozen peas, optional – gives green if no parsley!)
1. Preheat oven to 200oC.
2. Put oil in a large roasting tin and blend in the harissa paste. Toss in the red onion pieces and put in the oven while you are preparing the other vegetables. Cook for 10minutes
3. Chop the chicken/turkey, sweet potato, tomato, aiming for similar sized pieces, weight out the peas (if using), open and rinse the chick peas.
4. Toss in the meat, sweet potato and peas into the pan with the onion. Season as required and place in oven, covered, for a further 10 minutes.
5. Dissolve stock cube in 1 pint/550ml water and add lemon juice.
6. Stir couscous into roasting tin with chick peas, lemon zest, stock/water/lemon mixture.
7. Return tin to the oven for 5-10 more minutes until the stock has been absorbed making sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked with no pink meat. The tin should be covered to help steam the couscous through. Take the tin out of the oven and lightly fork the mixture through before cooking uncovered for the last 5-10 minutes. If you are using pre-cooked peas they can be added at this point to allow them to warm through.
8. Stir through the parsley, once more using a fork to lightly separate the couscous saving a little parsley as a garnish.
9. Serve in bowls (with salad, as suggested above, if required).