And a Slightly More Sedate Supper...

(Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1563)

After all that exciting baking and curious combinations, I thought I would cook us something that uses up those inscrutable veggie scraps from the fridge, one chicken breast that I had leftover and frozen, some crumbled Feta from a half opened pack and some dregs of Bulgar Wheat.
Yes, it's another one of those 'End Of the Month' dishes that I seem to spend more time cooking than anything else!
Actually, in spite of the ingredients perhaps being a little past their Use By Date, this dish was delicious and, according to Paul, exactly what he was craving. Furthermore, it was low fat to boot!
The beauty of this kind of dish is that it looks stunningly colourful, like you've spent hours slaving over it and all the ingredients are fairly interchangeable. No chicken? Then you could flake some salmon or ham or smoked fish, maybe some duck or turkey. Vegetarian? Skip the meat and use more vegetables and cheese. Don't have any Bulgar Wheat? Then use Cous Cous. Don't like Feta? So use Goats Cheese or no cheese at all. Suffice to say, the vegetables that languish in your fridge also dictate what you put in the dish.
And if you needed further encouragement, this is also really, really quick and simple to prepare.
To give my dish a slightly Middle Eastern flavour, I used Seasoned Pioneers Saudi Kabsa Spice Mix on the chicken and vegetables when I roasted them. Kabsa is a spicy blend of Cayenne Pepper, Cardamom, Coriander, Clove and Cumin, amongst many other fragrant ingredients. And of course, you can use your own favourite spice mix (Cajun is another favourite) or just plain old salt and pepper.
Because this dish without a name is effectively a warm salad, it needed a dressing, which is where the roasting juices come into their own. If you have used a spice mix when roasting your chicken and vegetables, pour the naturally flavoursome juices over the final dish before serving - it improves the flavour 100%.
If you have some flaccid vegetables that need using up before they walk out of the fridge and start a riot of their own, here's how to prepare this dish.
Serves 2 generously
250g Bulgar Wheat or Cous Cous
2 Chicken Breasts (or some leftover cooked chicken). I always use Skin-on chicken which is getting increasingly harder to find over here, but it does have much more flavour.
Selection of vegetables suitable for roasting, i.e. courgette (zucchini), carrot, asparagus, red onion, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash - cut into chunks
Spice Mix of your choice, I used Kabsa
Olive Oil
Vegetable Stock
100g Feta Cheese or similar crumbly, creamy cheese
Spring Onions and Parsley to Finish
If you are using leftover cooked chicken skip this step. If you are using raw chicken breasts, preheat oven to 200c.
In a large roasting tin, pour 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and mix with a couple of tablespoons of your spice mix. Place in the hot oven whilst you chop the vegetables.
Toss the vegetables into the hot, spicy oil, season with a little salt and pepper (if you feel your mix isn't that salty) and roast until tender. This can take between 30-40 minutes, depending on the vegetables used.
Meanwhile, place the chicken breasts in a sandwich bag with 2 tablesoons olive oil and about a couple of teaspoons of your spice rub. Smoosh the chicken all around so that it is well coated in the oily, fragrant spices.
Remove from the bag and place in a small roasting tin, making sure to squeeze all the oil and spices left in the bag all over the chicken. You should put the chicken in the oven about half way through the vegetable cooking time.
Roast for about 15 minutes or until cooked to perfection. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave to stand.
Whilst the chicken is roasting, prepare the Cous Cous or Bulgar Wheat as per the packet instructions. I usually use a chicken or vegetable stock cube dissolved in boiling hot water poured over the fluffy grains to give them more flavour.
Assembling the dish:
Once the Bulgar or Cous Cous is fluffed and has absorbed all the stock, tip the deliciously roasted and slightly charred in places vegetables over the top and toss gently with a fork.
Cut the chicken in to generous chunks and add that.
Pour over the juices from both roasting pans, then crumble over the feta.
Give a final, all amalgamating forking, sprinkle over some chopped spring onions and parsley (or herbs of your choice) and serve!


millufe said...

i sometimes ate Cous Cous at restaurants and i can get it at neighborhood supermarkets. But i've never made it, because i thought it hard to cook. Your Cous Cous looks delicious and i love cheese! it is time to buy Cous Cous!

Sophie said...

Fabulous - this is just the sort of thing I cook all the time during the week (as you say, it's quite an efficient fridge clearer!). I think bulgur wheat is really under-rated - I cook it in stock too and it ends up with much more flavour and texture than cous cous. Plus I never manage to make quite the horrible, claggy, soggy mess that I frequently seem to manage with cous cous :-)

Kristen said...

I love your thrown together dishes. This looks so good!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Look at you! Showing the world.......okay showing the foodie world your talents. Making something out of nothing; true mastery in the kitchen.

For me, something like this is one of the reasons I started blogging, or I would never remember what the real combination was that made me go "damn, that was gooood!"

Lydia said...

We call these kinds of dinners "fridge dump", which is an inelegant name for what always turns out to be a wonderful meal!

tigerfish said...

No wonder you said fruits are more intellectual coz they can appear as art :D

I like the bonanza that you did. Should be able to do the normal rice version too. Yumz....

Deborah said...

I wish I could just throw together meals like you do! I require way too much planning!

Kelly-Jane said...

Looks good :) A sort of jewelled bulghar! (I know I read too many recipes, I've got a bit flowery).

Joyce said...

Freta, you just know this is my kind of dish! Simple yet bursting with flavor and color. Lovely presentation.

Callipygia said...

Oh gosh I can taste the flavors seeped and soaked into the couscous. The "Summer" painting perfectly matches, how fun!

katiez said...

Just what I needed: I have 1 carrot, half a green pepper, 2 stalks celery....tomorrow is shopping day, and couscous makes it fast.
Plus, it's fits my 'pretty' criteria

Susan said...

A clever and historic use of spices to stretch those ingredients passed their prime. Seasoned Pioneers has such great blends. I wish I could find a store that sells more of their product line.

Little Foodie said...

I love your month end recipes. We've been trying to get in to the habit of using everything up and stop being so wasteful.I know I can come here for inspiration. Amanda

Shaun said...

Freya, love - I am craving this, too. I love using chicken stock to plump up bulgar wheat, and I can imagine the combination with roasted vegetables is very sensational, however humble the intention for clearing the vegetable drawer in the fridge. A very comforting and flavorful mid-week dish.

Lucy said...

There's nothing like a good fridge clean out to really get creative.

Spice really does make tired food taste good. Well done.

MidwestMaven said...

Looks delicious! Just the kind of meal I need to prepare soon, as my fridge has little bits of lots of things ...

T.W. Barritt said...

It is amazing what you produce out your fridge leftovers -- this looks great! Any suggestions for asparagus, sun dried tomatoes and raspberry jam?

christine said...

Thank you SO much for giving me an awesome idea to use up the bulgur in my pantry! I bought too much and used it once for taboulleh and haven't touched it since. This looks great! :)

Chubbypanda said...

Bulgar wheat is a grain I'm still largely unfamiliar with, although I've been reading more and more about it in the latest food journals. Seems to be the newest fad grain here on this side of the pond.

Jeanne said...

I am just in love with Bulgur but my husband fails to see the point! Makes menu decisions a little tricky sometimes... although I think a very herby tabbouleh coudl be the thin edge of the wedge that wins him over!

This is just the kind of dish that gets made in my kitchen - amounts and ingredients vary accourding to what's lurking in the fridge!