Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous with Roasted Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes

I love colorful dishes. Often times, when I'm thinking of what things I want to add to a dish, I think in terms of color first. Take this dish for instance - I saw these beautiful red and yellow sweet mini peppers at the market and decided I couldn't leave without them. At that moment in time I wasn't sure what I'd make but I knew I wanted them.

Mini Sweet Peppers

Roasting them sounded good because I love how it brings out the natural sweetness as they caramelize. Same with cherry tomatoes. Yum.

To Roast: Toss with olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, then roast in oven at 450 degrees F
until tender and browned, about 30 minutes.

So I had decided to roast the peppers and tomatoes but then what? Well, I've had this whole wheat pearl couscous sitting in my pantry for quite awhile just waiting for the right accompaniments to bring it to life. This round-shaped couscous once cooked, is tender like pasta. It's hearty, nutritious, and simply delicious. And it cooks pretty quickly, too.

Now, I was still thinking in terms of "color", so in my mind of course it needed some green. I was thinking some nice Italian parsley would be wonderful but the only thing I had on hand was cilantro. No problem! It worked perfectly.

Lastly, I just topped it with a little Greek feta (goat cheese would have been lovely, too) and I was in business. The best impromptu lunch in a long, long while.

Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous with Roasted Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes

Serves 2-3 (more as a side dish)

1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous, prepared according to package directions
1 5-ounce package sweet mini peppers, stemmed and split
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese to garnish
crushed red pepper (optional)

Toss peppers and tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, then roast in oven at 450 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.

Toss roasted peppers and tomatoes with cooked couscous, then gently mix in cilantro. Top with crumbled feta cheese and crushed red pepper, if desired. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. It's equally delicious both ways.


Crispy Chicken Sandwich

From looking at this sandwich, would you think it was healthy?

How about tasty?

I have to tell you that is was absolutely both!

Who knew a "regular old chicken sandwich" could taste so good? Tender, juicy chicken breast with a crispy coating topped with a lemon dill yogurt sauce, and layered with sweet and tangy roasted bell peppers, crisp cucumbers, and sharp watercress on a multi-grain bun...yummmmm. I could not get enough of this sandwich.

I saw this in the March issue of Clean Eating magazine. This was the first time I've picked up this magazine and there are several things from this issue I'd like to try. I totally identify with their philosophy - "consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible..it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to an improved life - one meal at a time".

Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Serves 4

4 4-ounce thin all natural organic chicken breast cutlets (see Cook's Note)
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tablespoon canola oil

Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce:
1/3 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt (I use Fage Total 2%)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

2 cups fresh watercress, stems trimmed
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
2 roasted bell peppers (jarred or see Cook's note)
4 thin whole-grain sandwich buns (I used Orowheat Multi-Grain Sandwich Thins)

I prepared the lemon dill yogurt sauce and toppings in advance so that once the chicken was ready the sandwiches were quick to assemble.

To make Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce:
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

lemon juice, yogurt and fresh dill

prepare toppings in advance

To make Crispy Chicken Cutlets:
Gather 3 shallow bowls. In 1st bowl place flour. In 2nd bowl place egg whites and Dijon Mustard and whisk together. In 3rd bowl place Panko bread crumbs. Season all 3 bowls with a small amount of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and mix each.

Seasoned whole-wheat flour, seasoned egg whites, and seasoned Panko bread crumbs

Dredge each chicken cutlet first in flour, then in egg white mixture, then in Panko crumbs and press to coat completely. Place coated cutlets on a plate. Next heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high and add oil. Gently add coated cutlets to skillet and cook for approximately 3 minutes per side or until browned and fully cooked (no longer pink) on the inside. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate.

coated chicken cutlets before and after

To build sandwiches:
Spread lemon dill yogurt sauce on both sides of multi-grain buns, then place one crispy chicken cutlet on each bottom bun and top with watercress, cucumber and roasted peppers. Cover with top bun and serve immediately.

sooooo delicious!!!!

Cook's Note re: Chicken Cutlets - If you cannot find chicken cutlets, just purchase boneless skinless chicken breasts and slice each horizontally into 2 thin pieces.

Cook's Note re: Roasted Bell Peppers - You can easily use jarred roasted bell peppers but if you have an extra bell pepper or two laying around, why not roast yourself? To roast, heat oven to 425 degrees F, place sliced bell peppers with stem and seeds removed on parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Roast in oven until tender and caramelized, approximately 30 - 45 minutes. There's nothing like fresh, warm roasted bell peppers all tangy and slightly sweet from the natural sugars caramelizing in the oven. Yum!


Spicy Sumo Chicken

At Gelson's earlier today, they had these funny looking oranges to sample which were actually Sumos, or Sumo Citrus.  They are a blend of orange and mandarin with the most unbelievably easy to peel skin and they're also seedless. They're sweet like an orange with just a little extra tang. If you find them in your local market, you should definitely give them a try. They're easy to take in your lunch or for a quick snack because they're so quick and easy to peel.

I chose to use the juice and some of the flesh in this quick marinade and it was delicious. You could easily use regular oranges or mandarins instead, though.

Spicy Sumo Chicken

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

1 lb all-natural organic chicken breast, cubed
1 Sumo Citrus or 1 large orange, juiced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
1 Serrano pepper, minced (less for less heat)
dash Himalayan pink salt
couple of turns of freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons cooking oil
2 green onions, sliced

Marinade: Serrano pepper, Sumo Citrus, honey and soy sauce

Place all ingredients except peanut oil and green onions in bowl and mix together, then cover and place in refrigerator to allow to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. You could also use a zip top plastic bag instead of a bowl.


Heat a wok or non-stick skillet to medium heat and add oil. Carefully add the chicken a few pieces at a time and then turn to coat and begin cooking. Next slowly and carefully add the marinade to the wok or skillet, mix with the chicken and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until the marinade is reduced by half and the chicken is cooked through, at least 3 minutes or more. Add green onions and turn to coat. Remove from pan and serve over brown rice with additional green onions to garnish, if desired.

cooking the chicken and reducing the marinade