roasted garlic-cumin chicken over couscous

A couple of weekends ago, a big storm was headed our way. Not sure if we would lose power - or for how long, if we did - I decided it was a good time to make one really good last meal. I picked this up from Anne Burrell on the Food Network partly because I have always wanted to make roasted garlic. This recipe calls for two whole heads of garlic, but roasting it brings out an earthy sweetness that is just awesome with the chicken and whole-wheat couscous. 

Chef beware, however: as delicious and healthy as this meal is, it is an all-day affair. Make it when it's raining out and you want to be stuck in the kitchen. :)

Roasted Garlic-Cumin Chicken over Couscous
  • 2 whole garlic bulbs
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 large bunch thyme, leaves only
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken*, cut into 8 to 10 parts
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c whole-wheat couscous (or 2 cups medium-size Israeli couscous)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced thin on the bias
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 2 zucchini, green part only, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 scallions, white and green, sliced thinly on the bias

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the garlic bulbs (still in their natural casings) directly on an oven rack and roast them until they are soft when squeezed, about 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let cool.
  • When the garlic bulbs are cool, slice the tops off and squeeze out the roasted garlic. Add the garlic to a food processor or a bowl, along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, cumin, crushed red pepper and salt, to taste. Add a little olive oil and puree or mash into a loose paste. Massage the mixture all over the chicken pieces and let sit for at least one hour.
  • Cook couscous according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
  • Coat a large saute pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and brown it on all sides. Remove it to a plate, drain the fat and add the onions and celery. Season with salt, to taste, and the crushed red pepper. Deglaze with white wine, scraping up all the crud on the bottom of the pan and cook the onions and celery for seven to eight minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add in the saffron, zucchini, cooked couscous, and 1 1/2 chicken stock. After stirring, dish should be juicy and moist, but not soggy. Taste and adjust seasoning, and add more broth, up to 2 c, if needed. Transfer the mix to an ovenproof dish. Nestle the chicken, skin side up, in the couscous and cover with foil. Add some more chicken stock to keep everything nice and moist. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cover with foil. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan.
  • Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, covered, then remove the foil and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and top with scallions before serving.
*Note: Save the bones and make homemade chicken stock!


chicken skewers with spicy peanut sauce

You know how I feel about peanut butter. (And, in case you don't, let me fill you in: it borders on obsession.) Peanuts are a food you can feel good about eating because of their super-charged monounsaturated fat, which is a nutrient noted for its cardiovascular benefits. I've also read that peanuts have an antioxidant in them that is good for skin recovery, so make this after a day in the sun.

This peanut sauce, which also brings super-healthy fresh garlic and ginger into your life, comes together quickly in a food processor and makes a great dip for veggies the next day. Serve it with a light and fresh side dish - I did sauteed spinach and steamed summer squash - and feel good about dinner tonight.

Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes four servings 

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (shake the can before pouring!)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 shallot or onion, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or 2 additional teaspoons low sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pounded slightly and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 8 (8-inch) skewers, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 3/4 cup spicy peanut dipping sauce, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts


  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, coconut milk, soy sauce, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime zest, and ginger. Add the chicken strips and marinate for at least an hour. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
  2. Skewer the chicken and preheat a grill to medium heat. Cook two to three minutes per side until meat is cooked through and has light grill marks. (You could also broil these until juicy and just done, flipping halfway through the cooking.)
  3. Serve chicken skewers with sauce, and garnish with basil or cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
Sauce can be made a day ahead of time, and will keep three to four days in the refrigerator. It doubles as a yummy, healthy veggie dip for next-day snacking.

  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter (skip the overly processed or reduced-fat varieties - you'll miss out on this food's natural goodies!)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serve with grilled chicken skewers.