Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Harvest Time Combo
September is finally here. That means a number of things, but two that thrill me are that fall is just around the corner and that the garden is producing at capacity, with lots and lots of delicious veggies, herbs and fruits to enjoy.
The smaller tomatoes have been prolific for weeks, but the large tomato plants (this year only three plants-because of the drought-and all the Black Krim variety) are just now providing ripe fruit to enjoy. My favorite way to enjoy them is sliced, with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar splashed on, a grinding of black pepper, and a sprinkle of chopped basil lending both fragrance and flavor.
One of my favorite recipes using the smaller grape tomatoes is Mediterranean Couscous with Chicken, but wheat couscous is off my list of foods at the moment. I was pleasantly surprised to find Lundberg's brown rice couscous at the store Monday morning. They are a California company that grows all sorts of rice, so I bought a box and immediately thought of making that recipe. I had some chicken, the lemon, basil and small tomatoes and, although it would effect the flavor, I decided to forgo the feta cheese since cheese is also off the list. The pine nuts would come from my fridge, not the couscous box, and would be for Sweetie...yes, another food not on the list. Actually we never did get the pine nuts on this dish but I did get a nice phone visit with our daughter instead.
It has been very warm around here for the last week or so and I have been sort of hibernating, especially in the afternoons. If we cool down the house overnight and then close the downstairs windows and connecting doors, the downstairs keep pretty cool until dinner time. I have been doing a lot of reading. In the mornings when it is cooler, I've been working on a stained glass piece I'm making for my younger brother's round number birthday. It's been ten years since I've done any stained glass work, so my skills are rusty, but I finally have all the pieces ready and on the lightbox and it looks pretty nice. Now for foiling, fluxing and soldering. It may not end up being a perfect piece, but I think it will be lovely and suit my brother, too...although he may be perfect.
The brown rice couscous is prepared differently than regular couscous, which is basically steamed. With the brown rice version you begin by simmering the broth and couscous, then taking it off the heat and letting it steam. It adds about 15 minutes to the process, so build that into your meal prep plan. You can increase the lemon zest and lemon juice and it will be even better. I decided that about 2/3 of the tomatoes (picked right before dinner) were plenty but go for the whole amount if you just love cherry tomatoes.
Mediterranean Chicken Couscous
Serves 8 (more if part of a buffet or potluck)
1 1/4 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 (5.6 oz.) package Lundberg brown rice couscous
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (or turkey - I used roasted turkey thigh meat)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Garnish: fresh basil leaves
(Note: You'll need to buy a 2/3 oz. package of fresh basil and 1 rotisserie chicken to get the right amount of basil and chicken for this recipe. Substitute 3-4 teaspoons (I used 3) dried basil if you can't get fresh. 3 cups of leftover cooked chicken or turkey in large dice works fine, too.)
Place chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the dried thyme and the poultry seasoning. Place couscous in the pot, and stir. Cover and simmer over low heat for 11 minutes, then remove from the heat, keep covered, and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork, stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients. Serve warm or cold. Garnish with fresh basil leaves or a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts, if desired.