Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Israeli Spiced Chicken & Pearl Barley with Roasted Vegetables

This is actually one of my first recipes that I created completely by myself. I was inspired by a dish I ordered at a wonderful local restaurant named Veranda Cafe (If you live in Queens, NY I would highly recommend checking it out).  Anyway, the original dish was herb crusted salmon on a bed of Israeli couscous with grilled vegetables.  This is the first time I have ever used mint in a dish, and my boyfriend doesn't care for it, but I thought it was good. So you can have the option of omitting it if you like.  I will also be letting you in on the secret of homemade roasted red peppers.

Homemade Roasted Red Peppers
Gas stove: Take the peppers and put directly onto the flame.  I know if sounds scary but they won't go on fire I promise.  They will sizzle and pop a little, but don't worry.  Check them periodically and when they are all crusty and black flip them to the other side- the blacker the better!

Electric stove: Take the peppers and put them on a baking sheet under the broiler, and follow the same idea- once one side gets crusty and black, flip it. 

When all sides are charred.  Put the peppers into a bowl and cover with saran wrap tightly.  We are trying to trap all the steam so the flesh will soften and pull away from the skins.  I would say let sit for at least 10 mins.

Then carefully (they can still be really hot) cut them open and scrape out seeds and ribs, also the charred skin should rub right off too- if you don't get all the black and skin off it's not a big deal. If you really are bothered by the black stuff you can always give them a quick rinse. Then I just diced them into small pieces to add to the barely later.

Barley: Some people are weirded out by other grains.  So many people are used to just rice- so boring! I used pearl barley because I didn't have Israeli couscous- which is the super sized small ball shaped couscous.  Barley is chewy, almost like pasta, and can be creamy too (think risotto).  It is also high in fiber and selenium.  It can be eaten as a side dish (like what I made in this recipe) or added to soups or stews.  One more awesome thing: its super cheap to buy.

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, covered in spice rub (see below)
  • 1 cup of barely
  • 2 medium sized zucchini, diced
  • 1 large red pepper (or two small)
  • 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (I was lazy and used the stuff in a bottle)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped
Spice rub:
  • 1 tablespoon each of: smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, & parsley.
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, fresh black pepper, rosemary, garlic powder, thyme
  • 3-4 tablespoons of panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. First get the barley going (takes at least 30 mins). Read directions on the package. Just really bringing water to a boil and simmering til done.
  3. Put diced zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer- toss with oil, salt, pepper and just a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Put in the oven until crispy. Probably for about as long as the barley will cook.
  4. Prepare the roasted red peppers (see technique above). Or you can just used jarred peppers too. Either way is fine- just dice up into small pieces.
  5. Mix the spices for the rub in a small bowl.  Coat the chicken in a little oil so the rub sticks and cover the chicken completely with the rub (I went heavy with the rub on one side, and lightly on the other).
  6. In a skillet (that will fit all the chicken) heat some oil on high heat.  Add the chicken with the side you coated heavily down into the oil so it gets time to get crusty. Now you will be tempted to move and fuss and check with the chicken- don't do this or you will never get a crispy crust.  Let it go for like 8 mins at least on one side (Now I was also working with thick chicken breasts, so if yours are skinny or thin sliced, you can flip them over sooner)  Then flip the chicken to the other side and finish cooking over a lower heat (med-med high).
  7. When the zucchini and barley are done, add them both, along with the diced roasted red pepper, and combine in a bowl with salt, pepper, the oil, lemon juice and mint. Taste it because you might have to or want to add more of one of these ingredients. 
  8. Spoon barley onto a plate and slice up the chicken.  I served along side a quick salad.

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