Do you remember the movie Pleasantville? You know, the one where young Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon get sucked into a swell little 1950s TV town, and their influence transforms it into a place that’s colorful and sexy and lively and dangerous and all of those adjectives that are sooooooo much better than “pleasant”?
Well, if you’re not familiar, I kind of blew the plot line for you a little bit, but it’s on Netflix right now and you should give it a watch. Oh, but that’s not the point.
The point is that I took some boring boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turned them into this flavor-packed Harissa-Lime Chicken and Couscous Skillet, and all I could think of was that movie. Look at those colors– the golds and oranges and flecks of red; the greens of the herbs and lime wheels; the slightly pink sauce– this recipe is the ultimate anti-drab, and it’s just as flavorful as it is vibrant.
I mean, have you ever known something to be that colorful and not taste like a party in your mouth?
Alright, let me just back up for a second. You definitely know what limes and chicken are, and you’re probably all good in the couscous department, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never had, or even heard of, harissa. So in case you don’t know, harissa is a paste that’s used in a lot of Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes that is made out of a bunch of different peppers, and it’s definitely my new favorite red condiment.
Sorry, Sriracha, but you’ve been beaten out.
If you have a grocery store nearby that carries a lot of international ingredients, such as Wegmans, then you will most likely be able to find harissa there. However, if you can’t, harissa is actually pretty easy to make at home with whatever varieties of red peppers you can get your hands on. There are recipes all over the web depending on what chile peppers are available to you, and trust me when I say it’s well worth the few minutes to make a huge batch at home. You will use it all.
I was going to say that I practically ate my harissa with a spoon… but I literally ate some of it with a spoon. Multiple times. No, you’re weird!
It’s not just the harissa that I love about this recipe, though. It’s the chickpeas, the toasted pine nuts, the golden raisins, the TON of garlic and onion, the fresh herbs, the lime, the chicken, the couscous, the creamy yogurt, ALL OF IT. And I especially love how it’s all cooked in one skillet in less than an hour from start to finish even though you’d think from the flavor that it’d taken all day long.
That’s like a dream recipe right there.
Make this Harissa-Lime Chicken and Couscous Skillet and celebrate the fact that we don’t live in the era of tuna jello (yes, that was a thing) and TV dinners. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to take a picture and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter to show off those colors! I can’t wait to see yours!
- ¼ cup harissa paste, plus more for sauce
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2" chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 limes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2½ cups chicken stock, divided
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1½ cups dry couscous
- 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- Fresh herbs, such as cilantro, dill, parsley, and/or mint, chopped, to top
- In a large, sealable plastic bag, combine the harissa paste, cumin, salt, coriander, cinnamon, and black pepper. Mix well. Add in the chicken breasts and toss to coat. Seal and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, remove the chicken from the bag and add it to the skillet. Cook the chicken until browned, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes.
- Slice two of the limes and add the slices to the skillet, along with the onion and garlic. Cook until the chicken is cooked through but not dry, about 5 more minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Tent with foil to keep the chicken warm.
- Add the butter and 1⅔ cups of chicken stock to the pan and bring it to a boil. Stir in the chickpeas, golden raisins, and couscous. Cover the skillet and remove it from the heat. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, so that the couscous absorbs the liquid.
- Meanwhile, mix the greek yogurt with additional harissa paste, to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Fluff the couscous with a fork and mix in the pine nuts, the juice of the remaining lime, and additional chicken stock, as needed, for moisture. Top with the chicken and then drizzle over the harissa yogurt. Sprinkle with herbs and serve.
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