There is something fresh and lively about the tastes of the med. The flavours of herbs and citrus seem to call up the idea of the ocean breeze, and a warm sun. Bright blue waters and white sands come to mind, when I cook with Mediterranean flavours.

I am originally from a Mediterranean country so these flavours are close to home. Bright salads, grilled fish or chicken, spices and herbs combined in just the right way so that you end up with a light happy dish instead of a warm, heavy one.

The Sleekgeek competition inspired my recipe. The ingredients and method of cooking was very precise and I am so not used to it but I had fun doing it. Although I didn’t win the competition, I did win a delicious dish to add to my collection.

There are small changes I would make from the original recipe and I will note them in the instructions. I will leave them in their original form too. That way those who would like something tasty and low-cal, can go ahead and have just that.

The recipe

Mediterranean chicken bites with quick pickled salad and yellow rice

A light, fresh chicken dish that has loads of flavour with little calories. For the low-carb crows, you can replice the rice with cauli rice and it works just as well.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 2 -3 Servings
Calories: 219kcal

Ingredients

For the yellow rice:

  • ½ cup brown rice
  • Water according to packet instructions
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tbs shaved almonds
  • ½ medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

For the chicken bites:

  • 290 g chicken
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

For the quick pickled salad:

  • 4 courgettes
  • 2 colourful peppers
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the yellow rice:

  • Get the rice cooking first.
  • Rinse your rice until the water runs clear.
  • Place into your rice cooker or pot
  • Add water, turmeric, salt and pepper
  • Cook the rice according to the rice cooker or packet instructions.

For the chicken bites:

  • While the rice is cooking, chop your chicken into bite size chunks and put into a bowl
  • Peel your garlic, place it on a chopping board and using the flat of a knife and the palm of your hand crush the clove.
  • Chop up the crushed clove.
  • Sprinkle the tsp of salt onto the chopped garlic and using the very edge of your knife scrape the garlic toward you in a downward motion, using the salt as an abrasive to crush it.
  • Alternatively, use a garlic crusher or grater.
  • Add the garlic to the chicken.
  • Clean your knife and board
  • Squeeze the juice of half your lemon into the bowl.
  • Add the herbs, salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Set aside to allow the chicken to marinade.
  • Side note: Do not be alarmed by the chicken going white. The acidity of the lemon will slightly cook the chicken.

For the quick pickled salad:

  • Using the vegetable peeler, slice the courgettes into strips.
  • Slice your peppers as finely as you can.
  • Put all the vegetables in a bowl and add the other half of the lemon juice, herb and seasoning.
  • Taste it for seasoning.
  • Side note: The courgettes will taste bitter at this stage but the pickling process will eliminate this.
  • Set aside to pickle.

For the chicken bites:

  • Slice up your onion and garlic.
  • Heat up your non-stick pan on a high heat(I used the same pan for all the cooking done)
  • Throw in the shaved almonds and toss them regularly until they brown
  • Put the almonds aside.
  • Throw the onions into the pan and dry fry them for about 30 seconds (you can use olive oil at this point for extra flavour)
  • Add the garlic and then half a cup of water.
  • Hint: adding water to the onion and garlic prevents them from burning and allows you to get the same caramelised effect as using oil, just takes a bit longer, first boiling them until translucent and then the dry heat coaxing out the natural sugars.
  • If the onions stick to the pan, deglaze with a little bit more water.
  • Once browned. Add the almonds back into the pan for 10 seconds and then put the mixture into a big bowl.
  • Once the rice is cooked, add it to the onions and almonds.
  • Take the chicken pieces out of the bowl and put them in the hot pan making sure they are spread out.
  • When they brown on the bottom flip them over and let them brown there to.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Optional changes:
  • You can put the chicken onto skewers and braai them or cook them on a griddle pan
  • Make a dipping sauce with yogurt and herbs or serve with tzaziki
  • If you don’t eat nuts you can leave them out.

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