Friday, November 21, 2014

Couscous with Turkey or Chicken

Last Year's Post: Grilled Sweet Potatoes
Two Years Ago:  Rum Cake

This is an interesting take on leftover turkey, chicken or duck with a Middle Eastern feel.  The couscous, pomegranate seeds, mint and pistachios make it a little exotic while keeping it very healthy.  The original recipe called for pomegranate molasses in keeping with the Middle Eastern theme, which most people will not have on hand although I did for some reason (don't ask) so I tried it both ways - with the molasses and then with balsamic vinegar - and actually like the vinegar better because it balance the sweetness of the dried fruits and pomegranate seeds.

You could substitute any dried fruit for the cranberries and golden raisins - dried apricots would be particularly good - and could substitute other nuts for the pistachios and pumpkin seeds.  What I really liked about this recipe besides the great taste is that it's so fast and easy after all the holiday cooking and baking.  The couscous takes just ten minutes and everything else is just thrown in the bowl.  Make sure you keep your turkey or chicken in big, juicy pieces.  And by the way, this recipe works really well with smoked chicken or turkey as well.

Regarding pomegranates: you can sometimes buy just the seeds in your produce aisle, or they're easy to seed yourself.  Cut the pomegranate in half, spread each half slightly, turn over, and whack it with a wooden spoon over a bowl of water.  The seeds will come out along with a little bit of the white stuff, but the white stuff floats and is easy to remove from the water.  Drain the seeds and you're ready to go.  They add a jewel tone and sweet pop that's like no other.

Don't skip the yogurt because it adds an interesting dimension of creaminess and tang. Greek or regular plain yogurt will both work.  I couldn't find a small container of regular plain yogurt, so I used plain Greek yogurt and thinned it slightly with a little milk because it was really thick.  It was a very delicious, quick and healthy way to use up leftover roast poultry.

printable recipe
Couscous with Turkey or Chicken
Serves 4

Note:  You can also use leftover cooked duck instead of turkey or chicken.

1 cup of couscous
1.25 pounds cooked turkey or chicken, shredded into large pieces
The seeds of one pomegranate
3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons dried cranberries or cherries
3 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, plus more small leaves for garnish
Salt and pepper
4 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar

Cook the couscous according to package directions, then fluff with a fork.  Add the turkey or chicken, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, raisins, pistachios, and chopped mint.  Season generously with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Serve, topping each serving with a heaping tablespoon of yogurt, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar, and additional mint leaves.

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