This is a fantastic lunch for a weekend get-together with friends. It’s incredibly flavoursome and packed full of amazing crunchy textures, the inclusion of low GI chickpeas means you should feel pretty satisfied for the rest of the day. If you prepare the chicken thighs the night before, all you have to do on the day of serving is to chargrill the zucchini and prepare the salad, then cook the chicken ~ which normally take me about 15-20 minutes. If you can’t prepare the night before, just marinade the chicken in the fridge for 2-3 hours on the day instead. Feel free to serve the chicken thighs whole and arrange them on a serving platter (or old wooden board lined with some crumpled up baking paper to catch any juices) with a scattering of extra mint leaves and a lemon wedge or two. Obviously too, you can BBQ the chicken if you like and if you want a vegetarian option, just leave out the chicken altogether!
8-10 free-range skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed
For the marinade:
- 4 tablespoons EVOO
- Juice and zest 1 large lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon harissa paste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves, very finely minced
For the salad:
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup smoked almonds, chopped fine-medium
- 2 zucchini, sliced very finely (0.75mm) on a mandolin
- 6 spring onions (scallions) finely sliced (including some green parts)
- Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley; rocket and mint, finely chopped
- Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups couscous
- 3 lemons
- 3 tablespoons natural yoghurt
- EVOO and Olive oil for cooking
To make the marinade: add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine, season with a good pinch of crushed sea salt flakes and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add the trimmed chicken thighs coating thoroughly in the liquid (I use small latex gloves for this part as the harissa can stain your fingers). Cover bowl with cling wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
Into a large frying pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon ground cumin, stir together and warm over high heat. Add the drained chickpeas and coat in the flavoured oil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 1-2 minutes then add the pumpkin seeds and pine nuts, season with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt, continue to fry ingredients for a further 3-4 minutes until everything is golden and slightly crisp, toss often to ensure everything gets evenly toasted. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
While nuts are cooling, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large mixing bowl along with a good pinch of crushed sea salt flakes and a seasoning of freshly ground black pepper. Add the sliced zucchini strips and using clean hands, very carefully coat the veg in the oil. Warm a griddle pan over high heat and when almost smoking, fry the zucchini strips in batches until chargrilled on both sides. Drain and allow to rest on sheets of paper towel. When cool, stack the strips on top of each other, cut into long skinny strips and then the opposite way into lots of small pieces.
Using the same griddle pan fry the marinaded chicken thighs until chargrilled and cooked through. When they are half hay through cooking, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the meat ~ this will add an extra glossy, golden colour to the meat. Repeat with a second lemon towards the end of the cooking time. Remove chicken from pan, allow to rest for 5-6 minutes, then slice into 1cm strips.
To cook the couscous, place into a bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before fluffing up with a fork and drizzling with a 1 teaspoon EVOO.
To make the yoghurt drizzle; simply combine yoghurt with 1 tablespoon EVOO and a small squeeze of lemon juice.
To assemble the dish: combine couscous, cooled nut/seed mix, zucchini, spring onion and chopped herbs, mix thoroughly using a large spoon then drizzle with the juice of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon EVOO. Combine again then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to individual plates and serve with the chopped chicken scattered over and the yoghurt on the side.