Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Moroccan Pesto Chicken with Tomato Chickpea Salad

This is my year to learn how to grill. I picked up the Grill Every Day cookbook at a few weeks ago. I made a few thing out of this book for dinner: Cumin-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Moroccan Pesto and Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad. The chicken was great and even the my family was cautious of "ruining" the chicken breasts with pesto, they did go ahead and try it and gave it two thumbs up. The lemon and garlic in the pesto made it really zesty which is unique for pesto. I sliced the chicken breasts and served them all on a platter so that the four chicken breasts would go further (and look like more food) because an extra person showed up for dinner.

The chickpea salad didn't get as good of a review. I found out that my family members like pure vegetable salads and are not wile about chickpeas. I love them though so I had lots of good leftovers. I thought the salad was really fresh and the feta cheese made it very rich as well. The only thing I was not happy with was that the recipe calls for canned olives. I'm not sure if I bought the wrong kind of olives or something, but I got the only kind of green olives that came in a can. They had NO FLAVOR! I suggest you regular Spanish olives that come in a jar to ensure that the olive taste comes through in the salad. If I ever make this again I will probably use kalmata olives because I think that flavor would go really well with the rest of the ingredients.

Cumin-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Moroccan Pesto
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Moroccan Pesto

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on medium-high.

Remove any pieces of fat clinging to the chicken breasts and place the breasts in a shallow baking dish or bowl. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, salt, and pepper. Rub the chicken breasts on both sides with olive oil and then rub them with the spice rub. Set aside until the grill is ready.

Oil the grill grate. Place the chicken breasts directly over the medium-hot fire and sear on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn and sear on the other side until the juices run clear when the thickest part of a breast is pierced with a knife, or an instant-read thermometer registers to 165 degrees, about 4 minutes longer.

Divide the chicken breasts among warm plates and drizzle with the pesto. Serve immediately.

Moroccan Pesto
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the cilantro, parsley, garlic, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper and process until the herbs and garlic are finely chopped. With the machine running, pour the lemon juice and olive oil through the feed tube and process until the sauce is combined. Use immediately, or transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can (6 ounces drained weight) pitted ripe olives, halved
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, olives, tomatoes, parsley, and feta. Add the dressing and toss gently to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Alternatively, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or for up to 2 days. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.


tami said...

The chicken looks great...but the salad looks AMAZING :)

Kalyn said...

All three of these recipes look great to me!

Dr Bombay said...

the only thing I would add to this is that if you want to get down on the grilling, you should try tossing the tomatoes in some oil and letting them blister just a bit on the grill. p.s. - don't just toss the little cherry tomatoes on the grill, they'll fall in (duh) -- use a vented grill pan or improvise poking holes in some aluminium foil and placing the tomtatoes on the foil on the grill. that would add an extra layer of smokiness to the meal. heck, you could even grill the feta too.