Date Night: Grilled Lemon Chicken with Ancient Grains and Parsley-Artichoke Salad

Friday, March 18, 2011

Usually I post the "Date Night" series on Mondays after The Hubsters and I have our date on Fridays, but today I'm doing it a little earlier. Here's a fabulous and extremely healthy and low-fat dinner using a simple lemon and herb marinade for the chicken that you could even marinade the day before. The grains use a combination of Israeli cous cous (which is my new obsession), orzo, and red quinoi for health and amazing texture, and the parsley-artichoke salad on top I'm using as a sort of chunky gremolata in this dish. When we ate it I couldn't help raving about how incredibly flavorful everything was. It's one of those "perfect dishes" -- flavor, texture, and everything made sense with each other. I'm extremely excited to share this recipe with you all. Please enjoy it!

For 2 people, but can be easily doubled or tripled for a dinner party menu.

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Ancient Grains and Parsley-Artichoke Salad
2 chicken breasts
2 lemons
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (not chopped or minced!)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried thyme OR 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp dried oregano OR 4 sprigs fresh oregano
1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups ancient grains blend*
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 recipe parsley-artichoke salad (see link to recipe above)

Clean the chicken breasts and trim. Pat dry with paper towels and place in a plastic freezer/gallon sized bag. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp pepper), add the garlic, herbs and olive oil. Take one lemon and slice it into 1/4" rounds, and add those in with the chicken. Take the other lemon and cut it in half, then squeeze the juice into the bag. Close the bag and using your hands, massage the marinade into the chicken. Let stand in fridge at bare minimum 2 hours, preferably 6 hours to overnight so flavors can develop nicely. Massage the bag occasionally while it stays in the fridge.

When ready to grill, take the chicken out about 15 minutes before you're ready to grill it to bring it up to room temperature. This will ensure even cooking and gorgeous grill marks. Grill on preheated high grill until cooked through, about 8 minutes total time depending on thickness of chicken. Let stand 3 minutes at least before cutting so juices can redistribute, then slice against the grain for presentation.

To make the ancient grains, place the broth in a pot and bring up to a boil. Add the grains and oil, and bring back up to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender but still al dente. For softer grains, add an additional 1/2 cup of broth. Fluff with fork and serve hot or at room temperature.

To plate, add a generous helping of the grains to the middle of the plate. Top with sliced chicken and then the parsley salad on top.

*You can use a pre-mixed ancient grain mix. Trader Joe's makes an excellent version. Or, simply go to your local natural foods store and make your own! Here's the ratio:

Israeli cous cous: yellow lentils: orzo pasta (colored if you can find it!): red quinoi

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