What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road.
We are definitely On the Road, and we’ve said more than a few good-byes in the last week. We now find ourselves in Charlotte, NC. celebrating the first birthday of our first – and only – grandson Cade! Wednesday we’ll depart for Harlingen, TX. for my first look at McAllen, TX. which will be our new home. I am a woman without a home (or a kitchen), but I’m going to keep up with my blog as I am able… 🙂 This Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Cherry Salad was actually the very last dish cooked in my kitchen in Las Cruces before it was packed to the point of uselessness!
The Moroccan flavor profile inspired this flavorful main dish salad – warm spices, lemon juice, dried fruit, nuts, garbanzos, and couscous are combined with marinated and grilled chicken. Couscous – steamed or soaked semolina – is a staple in North African cuisines of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya, and to a lesser degree in the Middle East. Traditionally, it would be served as a base for a stewed dish – either meat or vegetarian – as in my Pressure Cooker Braised Lamb Shanks & Couscous. I love to use couscous as a base for a quick main dish salad as I have with this recipe. The couscous available in western markets is a “quick” cooking couscous which takes only 5 minutes to cook and fluff with a fork. This makes it a perfect ingredient for weeknight cooking!
The “secret ingredient” in this recipe is Ras El Hanout – a Moroccan spice blend of cinnamon, clove, allspice, cumin, coriander, black and red pepper, and ginger. If you prefer to purchase the spice mix, it is widely available in U.S. markets, and can be ordered online. Many of the ingredients are staples in my Well-Stocked Pantry – couscous, slivered almonds, garbanzos, chicken broth. The chicken breast gets a quick soak (longer if you have the time) in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and ras el hanout, and then grilled. I love the flavor of grilled vegetables, and the zucchini (or eggplant) make this a one dish meal. Throw a couple of halved lemons on the grill; squeeze over top just prior to serving. The burst of flavor from the charred lemon is amazing! We love cilantro, but if you’re averse to this somewhat polarizing herb, you can substitute parsley or mint. We enjoy this salad at room temperature, but it works well refrigerated and carried to a picnic or summer potluck.
My husband and I would suggest a crisp white or rosé with this dish such as a dry chenin blanc or unoaked viognier. If you’re a craft beer drinker, I love it with a hefeweizen with a wedge of lemon or orange. Next time you’re looking for a new and interesting weeknight one-pot dish, give my Moroccan Grilled Chicken & Cherry Salad a try!
Exotic flavors of ras el hanout, dried cherries, garbanzos, almonds, and couscous come together in a quick, easy, and flavorful one dish meal...
10 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
- 24 oz. chicken breast, pounded to even thickness*
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. garlic
- 1 tbsp. ras el hanout
- 1 tsp. salt
- several grinds ground pepper
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 tsp. ras el hanout
- 1 1/4 cup chicken broth*
- 1 tsp. salt
- ground pepper
- 2 small zucchini or 1 eggplant, 3/4" dice, grilled*
- 1 lemon, cut in half and grilled with the zucchini or eggplant
- 1 can garbanzos, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds (slivered preferred; sliced okay), toasted
- 8 oz. dried cherries
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Combine marinade ingredients in a gallon zip bag. Massage the bag to combine. Add chicken breasts.
Grill to until chicken is done, but not overcooked - about 160 degrees internal temperature. Tent with foil; chicken will continue to cook to get the temperature to 165. When cool, cut into bite-sized pieces.
Bring the amount of liquid* recommended on couscous package to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add ras el hanout, salt, pepper, and couscous. Turn off heat and cover pan. Allow to sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.
Grill zucchini (or eggplant) in a basket on medium heat, along with the halved lemon. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl; add olive oil, and whisk together.
To a large salad bowl, add fluffed couscous, cubed chicken, garbanzos, toasted almonds, dried cherries, and chopped cilantro. Drizzle lemon juice/olive oil over top. Toss to combine.
Garnish with additional cilantro if desired. Enjoy!
* See Notes
The chicken can be marinated for 30 minutes or overnight depending on your schedule. Obviously, the longer the chicken soaks the more flavorful your result will be. If you're really in a rush for time, a rotisserie chicken will do in a pinch.
Pounding the chicken breast will give a better, more even result.
Chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water are fine.
I love to grill diced veggies in a grill basket; they have so much more flavor. I'd recommend not skipping this step as it only takes a few minutes!