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Keeping with Mediterranean themed recipes for January, this dish is packed with flavor and made in one pan. Lentils and dates stewed together make a perfect savory and sweet combo and an easy way to make chicken more exciting. Try a bowl of this satisfying sauté to re-fuel after a long training session!
Makes 4 servings
1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice
1 ¼- 1 ½ pounds chicken breast (4 small breasts)
1 cup lentils
½ cup dates, pits removed, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine (chardonnay works well)
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 shallots, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme finely chopped
1 heaping tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1. In a small pot, combine the rice with 1 ½ cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until the water has absorbed. Fluff rice with a fork.
2. In an extra large, deep sauté pan, add the olive oil, shallots, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper and sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes.
3. Season the chicken breast with the other ½ teaspoon salt and add to the pan with the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Sauté for another 5-6 minutes, turning the chicken several times so it gets covered with the herbs and garlic.
4. Add the lentils, dates and cumin to the pan with the white wine. Try to toss the lentils and dates with all of the seasonings in the bottom of the pan, and keep to the bottom of the pan (off the chicken).
5. Cover and let cook about 10 minutes, until the wine has absorbed. Turn the chicken.
6. Add the chicken stock to the pan. Let cook another 5 minutes, covered, and remove the chicken from the pan (making sure it is cooked through).
7. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook the lentil mixture until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are al dente. If more liquid is needed, add a bit more stock or water. Note: keep the lentils al dente, not mushy.
8. To serve, slice the chicken over the rice and top with the lentil mixture.
Note: The pre-cooked lentils sold at Trader Joes also work well in this recipe because they remain al dente following the same instructions above.
Note: Another protein, like beef or tofu can be substituted. Adjust the cooking time of the protein accordingly.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif. She is also a professional Xterra triathlete and mountain biker. Follow Jess’ recipes on her “Fit Food by Jess” Facebook page.