Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Autumn Freekeh Bowl with Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

The roasted even smoky flavor of freekeh, a Middle-Eastern roasted wheat grain, is a wonderful match for late fall as the weather cools and we spend more time indoors roasting and baking. I call this a "bowl," but it's easily a salad too, especially if you serve it cold.

Autumn Freekeh Bowl with Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

2 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup freekeh, rinsed
12 oz. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sprouts halved
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste as indicated below
3/4 lb. boneless-skinless chicken breast cutlets
1/2 tsp. finely ground garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Place spinach leaves in a large bowl.

2. Cook freekeh according to package directions. Add to the bowl with the spinach while still warm.

3. Preheat oven to 425 F. Combine Brussels sprouts, 1 tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Spread sprouts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (I recommend lining it with foil). Turn over any sprouts so that the cut-side is down. Roast until the bottoms and edges are browned, about 20 minutes. Add to the bowl with the spinach and freekeh while still warm.

4. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large deep-sided skillet over medium heat until quite hot. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and add to the pan. Season with garlic powder and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until browned, then turn over and continue cooking until the other side is browned, about 10 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, allow to cool slightly, then slice into bite-sized pieces. Add the onion to the pan and sauté in the remaining olive oil and chicken drippings until soft and lightly browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add the onion to the large bowl.

5. Whisk together the apple cider vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl, then pour it over the ingredients in the large bowl. Add the pecans and dried cranberries and stir all the ingredients together to combine (the heat from the warm ingredients should have partially wilted the spinach by this point). Serve either warm or cold in shallow bowls.

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