Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Saffron Chicken Kabobs, Couscous with Pistachios, Chickpeas, and Corn, and Green Salad with Herbs and Radishes

If you have not had Middle Eastern food, then you are missing out. This was one seriously delicious meal. I'm talking seriously delicious! It is so seriously delicious that you will not be able to focus on anything else while eating it. In fact, I was able to tune out my eight-year old daughter (for those of you who know young girls, you understand). You see, the child is never quiet. NEVER! She is either talking, humming, singing, blathering, arguing, you name it. I never heard a word she said throughout dinner. I was too busy marveling at all the fresh flavors, the textures, and the overall appeal of this dish. It was one of those meals where you are full, but you keep on eating anyway.

I have my friend Joanne, of Eats Well With Others, to thank for this meal. Joanne is now hosting Regional Recipes which is a monthly roundup of regional cuisines from around the world. This month, we are celebrating the cuisine of the Middle East. Believe me when I tell you that this is one delicious cuisine that uses fresh flavors and is very healthy, for the most part.
I borrowed a wonderful cookbook from the library called Feast From the Mideast by Faye Levy. I highly recommend it. I flipped through this cookbook for 5 minutes and was hooked. There are no pictures, not even black and white, but there are 350 delicious recipes. I actually preferred this cookbook to Claudia Roden's books. (Sorry, Claudia)

I have been wanting to cook with saffron for a really long time so I decided on the Saffron Chicken Kabobs. To go along with the kabobs, I chose the couscous and green salad with radishes (I love radishes).
Saffron Chicken Kabobs (Chich Tawouk)
*Adapted from Feast From the Mideast by Faye Levy*
Pinch saffron (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon) crushed
2 or 3 onions
3 tablespoons strained lemon or lime juice
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut in 1-1/4 inch pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large cherry or small plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
Basil sprigs, chives and other fresh herbs
fresh pita bread
Put saffron in small cup and pour 2 tablespoons hot water over it. Let stand for 5 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon liquid saffron for basting chicken. Pour remaining saffron into bowl large enough to contain chicken. Finely grate 1/2 onion and add to bowl. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and mix well. Add chicken pieces to bowl and mix well. Cover and marinate for 2-6 hours in refrigerator.
Cut peppers in 1-1/4-inch squares. Quarter remaining onions. Remove chicken from marinade, brushing off bits of onion and discarding marinade. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Thread chicken on skewers, alternating with pepper pieces, onions and tomatoes.
Heat barbecue, stove-top grill, or broiler and lightly oil rack. Combine remaining liquid saffron with oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Brush this basting liquid over chicken. Put kabobs on barbecue. Grill or broil about 10 minutes, until chicken is just cooked through but is still succulent, turning kabobs often and brushing them occasionally with basting liquid. To check, cut into a chunk- chicken should not be pink inside. Serve hot with herbs and fresh pita.

Couscous with Pistachios, Chickpeas, and Corn (Salat couscous im fistookim v'hummus)
*Adapted from Feast From the Mideast by Faye Levy*
3-4 tablespoons EVOO
1 onion, minced
1/2 large zucchini, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 cup couscous
2-4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 small garlic cloves, minched
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 cup cooked or canned corn kernels, drained
1 - 15 oz- can chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup salted pistachios, toasted

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add zucchini, salt, and pepper and saute for 1 minute. cover and cook for 1 more minute. Remove vegetables to bowl. Add water, carrot, and a pinch of salt to saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Add couscous and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 7 minutes.
Lightly spoon couscous mixture into large bowl and fluff with a fork. Add remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, and mint, and mix lightly. Add corn, chickpeas, and sauteed zucchini mixture and toss lightly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve salad warm, cold, or at room temperature, sprinkled with pistachios.

Green Salad with Herbs and Radishes (Marul salatsi)
*Adapted from Feast From the Mideast by Faye Levy*
5-6 cups bite-size pieces romaine lettuce, or one 10 oz. package
3/4 to 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula or watercress (optional)
6 small red radishes, sliced
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or mint
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lmeon juice or white/red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons EVOO
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup good-quality black olives, such as kalamata (optional)
Toss lettuce with arugula, radishes, green onions, parsley and dill in bowl. Whisk lemon juice with oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Pour over salad and toss lightly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with olives.

Notes/Results: I love this meal! Surprisingly, I think the radish salad might have been my favorite component of the meal. It was bright, fresh, lemony and had a bite to it. Of course, I could just be biased because I love radishes. The saffron chicken kabobs were tender and juicy and had a very mild flavor. I didn't really know what to expect of the saffron. For some reason, I expected it to have a very strong flavor, but it was somewhat mild and pleasant. The couscous salad was addictive. When you bite into it the corn and chickpeas burst in your mouth and the overall texture of the couscous is wonderful. You have the tenderness of the couscous, the crunch of the pistachios, and the sweet burst of the corn. Let's just say that this cook had her fair share directly out of the bowl. It's all about quality control, right?

Click HERE for information about Regional Recipes.

Hmmmm.....if only I had made the Queen of Sheba Chocolate Cake:D


  1. Wow! What a meal!!!! I love all those flavors!!! I am drooling here :)

  2. Middle Eastern food is one of my favorite cuisines. I completely relate to being able to tune everybody out including, the child while enjoying this meal.

  3. I loooooove Middle Eastern food, they have amazing salads, try to get also Ottolenghi cookbook, he is an Israeli living in London, the book is to die for. I have the same skewer you used. The food looks delicious.

  4. just for a lover or additectd you have much talent congratulations....kiss

  5. I am SOOO happy that you had such a good experience with this cuisine! All of the food looks incredibly amazing. I definitely don't cook with saffron enough (maybe because it's so expensive?). That every ingredient in it! I am definitely going to have to get that cookbook. Thanks for the submissions!

  6. Mmmm...that sure looks good! I love eating out at Middle Eastern restaurants, but have never attempted to make any Middle Eastern dishes at home. Don't know why, but it never comes to mind. I'll have to bookmark this one!

  7. You are rocking it out with this one, Kim! Did the skewer come like that or did you just take a straight one and bend it? I ask because most skewers dont work well on an Egg since it's round. They have some cool flexible skewers (Fire wire?) but I haven't bought them yet. Maybe I should just bend some of mine?

  8. Those kebabs look fabulous! I love the curved wire, it makes the dish look so beautiful!

  9. Kim-that is such a stunning plate! And I loved your description of the cous cous...details so vivid I felt like I could taste it. I like cous cous w/ pistachios but have never had it with chickpeas and corn as well.

  10. Okay. I definitely need to make this meal if that's all it takes for a little peace in my head. lol. My oldest daughter sounds a lot like yours."talking, humming, singing, blathering, arguing, you name it". Exactly! Not a single moment of silence here.

    This meal looks magnificent! Love all of the flavors. I haven't eaten Middle Eastern food in so long and I've never prepared it in my kitchen. I need to put a Middle Eastern meal into my rotation. It all sounds delicious

  11. Totally delicious! And we have the same skewers - we are skewer sisters!
    I will check out this book - thanks for the recomendation.

  12. I love middle eastern foods. This recipe sounds incredible!

  13. Hey Kim ...this is delight full and Joanne being ur fren am inviting u here for her little party which is a suprise party for her leave her a wish in the sprinkles feeds arent working so amtrying my best to find all her pals to leave her a wish in the sprinkles before she gets there or even after....will ya help too to make it a little sucess....

  14. Hi Kim,

    I'm delighted you like my book. Thanks for recommending it. Your photo of the food looks great.
    Happy cooking!
    Faye Levy

  15. A gorgeous meal--it all looks amazing! Middle Eastern Food is so delicious--such great flavors and textures. I am afraid to look at that cookbook--I have 4 or 5 Middle Easter cookbooks already and knowing me I would take it home! ;-)

  16. This look amazing! Will have to try it.

  17. Kim, this looks spectacular! I love the Middle Eastern accent throughout meal. I definitely want to give these recipes a try. Many thanks...

  18. Gorgeous meal. The salad is singing to me and I shall answer the call. It is so much fun to find a new cuisine and discover its riches.

  19. fun fun dish, great job! i love all of the different flavors, and if it has the power to help me tune out my chatty four year old girl, then i'm sold! lol, love it!

  20. Wow, that looks seriously delicious and healthy! yummmy!!!

  21. Those pics are totally off the charts, I never think to cook with saffron

    we think your blog is awesome and would like to invite you and your visitors to a new group The Kitchen Gang

  22. This sounds so good! And the photos are great!

  23. I am fortunate enough to have eaten Middle Eastern food and it’s wonderful. Love the cuisine. Your kabobs look great…mind if I come over?

  24. This looks amazing; did a beautiful job..what a fabulous picture and I'm sure it was delicious...thanks for sharing this great recipe...have a good night!

  25. Now this is a meal...I was hoping you would have had dessert too, you were on such a roll! Everything looks so wonderful! I totally relate on the girl jabber except mine is of four year old jabbering, humming, singing, pretending, etc. I am able to tune that out when I eat my Chocolate Covered and Liquored Up Strawberries!

  26. I wish I was more familiar with Middle Eastern cooking, because this looks amazing!!

  27. Kim, this looks amazing. I don't know this cookbook, but I'm going to search for it. I love this kind of food. We're lucky to have some wonderful restaurants here that serve this kind of food, and we go there often!

    Thanks for this recipe. I've bookmarked it.

  28. Mmmm...I've always wanted to make something with saffron, but have never found anything (until now) that looked good enough to try!

  29. Very tempting! And the pics are beautiful. A shor note to tell you that couscous is not from the Middle East but from Arab Northern Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Lybia). I think in the middle east they'd make rice with pine nuts and raisins as a garnish. But your cous cous idea suits the kebabs perfectly well!

  30. Wow, this is an incredible meal and the flavors sound amazing.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  31. Thanks so much for posting these fabulous recipes. On my must try list.

  32. WOW...coucous with Pistachios, Chickpeas, and Corn! Now this is something I have to try! Sounds delicious and such a pretty dish too!!

  33. Hi guys
    Believe me you believe in what you are saying about this recipe because the probe and is really amazing I love it. thanks for sharing the information. I love this blog.


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