Pineapple Chicken Couscous Salad

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

E: We made this salad totally on a whim. We had some extra pineapple sitting around from an earlier and unpublished recipe, and decided we wanted something with couscous. Joanna loves couscous, but I often find plain couscous is less interesting than even plain pasta. However, warm couscous salads such as this one have no such issues. We loved this! It is one of our favorites and it is a shame it has gone so long unpublished. The mix of flavors here is really excellent: if you are a fan of pineapple you will love it, but I think the pineapple blends so well into the dish as a whole that it is worth a try even if you don’t love it on its own. We used some Mediterranean-inspired parsley and basil to flavor the chicken, which we thought played off nicely with the sweetness of the fruit, but the chicken could be done in a multitude of different ways.

Toss in some peas and, if you are feeling brave, garnish with some sauteéd asparagus and you have yourself a tasty salad, warm or cold.

this was awesome!

Ingredients:

1 C. orange juice
1/2 couscous
1 lb. chicken, cubed
Rub for the chicken (see below for ingredients)
1/2 pineapple, cubed
1/2 C. peas (frozen and cooked, or fresh)
asparagus (optional)
olive oil

Herb rub:
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
(or other ingredients of your choosing)

J: First, of course, get all your ingredients prepped.  We found the easiest way to take care of the chicken was to sprinkle/rub in the herbs first, then slice it into cubes.

One of the inspired choices that contributed to this dish was the realization that, although couscous is usually cooked in water, really any liquid would do the trick.  So, I thought using orange juice might make for a nice change, and had the potential to impart some really nice flavor.  We ended up running out of orange juice at around 2/3 c, so we added some water to round out the cup — though we’d recommend using the full cup of orange juice if you can.

orange juice and water, measured for the couscous

Cook the couscous according to the usual procedure.  In the meantime, heat up a large-ish and a small-ish pan — you can just use the same one if you want to cook the chicken and pineapple one after the other.  Regardless, heat up some olive oil for the chicken, and sauté until fully cooked.

chicken pieces cooking

Either in another pan simultaneously, or in the same pan once the chicken has finished cooking, sauté the pineapple.  You can use some olive oil here, but don’t use much — and if you’re using a nonstick pan you really probably don’t need any (but hey, what does olive oil *not* improve, amirite?).  Just cook the pineapple until it’s gently browned — you’re going for a quasi-grilling effect here.

sauteeing the pineapple

Transfer the couscous to a heat-proof bowl and stir it a little so it releases some of its heat.  You don’t want it super-hot here, just warm.  Mix in the peas (which presumably you’ve cooked already, if you were using frozen), pineapple, and chicken.

mixing it all together

Season with anything else you feel it needs, and serve with some roasted asparagus if you like (asparagus and pineapple go really well together, FYI).  Enjoy!

the final product

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