Recipe: Chicken with Giant Couscous, Fennel, Pear and Walnuts
Christian Coates's book Fitness Gourmet is based on offering variations of recipes according to whether you want to lose body fat (Burn), stay health and in shape (Balance) or build muscle and endurance (Build). Recipes are categorised under one of those headings, but he also gives advice on how you can adjust them if you have different goals. This is a Balance recipe, but you'll find ways to make it Burn or Build below.
Chicken with giant couscous, fennel, pear and walnuts
A really fresh and fruity dish that leaves you feeling very satisfied without being too heavy.
The pears contain high levels of pectin (a water-soluble fibre) that can aid digestion and regulate blood sugar.
The antioxidants in the pomegranates help to counter any muscle soreness.
2 chicken breasts (a total weight of 240–280g/ 8 ½ –10oz)
¾ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of salt, plus extra to taste
100g (½ cup) giant couscous
2 large bulbs of fennel (about 160g/5 ½ oz in total weight)
3 Conference pears (about 150g/5 ½ oz in total weight)
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1 sprig coriander (cilantro)
50g (½ cup) walnuts, crushed
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
15g (1 tbsp) honey
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5, and you’ll need 2 baking trays (cookie sheets).
Place the chicken onto a baking tray and sprinkle with the fennel seeds, cumin seeds and the salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until cooked through (if you have a meat probe the core temperature should be 65°C/149°F).
Cook the couscous according to the packet instructions, as the large couscous does vary in size so the cooking times can be quite different.
Slice the fennel bulbs as thinly as you can – I like to use a Japanese mandolin – trying not to include any of the harder root section.
Peel and core the pears then chop into small chunks and place along with the fennel onto a baking tray (cookie sheet) and bake for 10–12 minutes.
Cut the pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. To do this, hold one half with the cut side over a bowl and firmly tap the back of it with a rolling pin until all the seeds fall out; repeat with the other half. Pick the leaves from the herbs and slice them finely.
Take one-third of the baked pear pieces and, using the back of a fork in a small bowl, crush into a rough puree.
In a large bowl, mix together the couscous, pear, pear pur.e, fennel, walnuts, lemon zest, half of the herbs, half of the pomegranate seeds and add a little salt, if necessary, to taste. To serve, divide between 2 bowls, top with the chicken breast and sprinkle over the rest of the herbs and pomegranate seeds.
Remove the couscous from the recipe and add 130g (4 ½ oz) per portion of diced celeriac. Roast the celeriac along with the fennel and pear.
Simply add an extra 30g (scant ¼ cup) couscous per portion.