Azzy’s Chicken Sumac with Risotto Style Barley and Spinach Asparagus Salad

Hubs’ favorite food of all time is his mother’s Chicken Sumac over Tadiq. We don’t know if Chicken Sumac is a “true” traditional Persian dish because she said she made it up when Hubs was just a wee thing. But it definitely uses Persian ingredients. And he LOVES it.

I’ve Americanized it a bit by taking out the flour, adding in ground flax seed and putting it on the grill (his mother usually pan fries it in vegetable oil).  And, in case you haven’t had it before (you really should…it is DIVINE), tadiq, in short, is Persian rice cooked with either oil or yogurt or potatoes on the bottom to form a thick crust. Since we are not eating rice right now, and focused more on other whole grains* when we do have a grain (our logic isn’t 100% foolproof…), I made barley, risotto style, with parmesan, red wine and sauteed onions and mushrooms. As a green side, I cut asparagus diagonally into 3/4″ pieces and wilted some fresh spinach leaves and topped with balsamic glaze. The whole meal worked really well together. The chicken is very easy to prepare. The risotto style barley needs constant maintenance but didn’t take longer than 30 minutes to pull together. The risotto and asparagus can be completely simultaneously.

* Because rice is one of his favorite things and to make tadiq you have to make enough for like five people, he will eat a lot of it. By using other whole grains and only making smaller portions, we eat less. Plus, the whole grains have a lower glycemic index than basmati rice.

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The chicken:

  • As many boneless, skinless breasts as you have people
  • Sumac
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Salt/pepper
  • Grapeseed oil

The barley:

  • Trader Joe’s 10 minute Barley (I only used about half a cup for 3 people)
  • 1/2 of a vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 overflowing cup of dried shitake mushrooms that are then chopped small and rehydrated with hot water
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • Grated parmesan to taste
  • salt/pepper

The greens:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut diagonally into 3/4″ pieces
  • 3 cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • tiny bit of salt
  • sprinkle of balsamic glaze

 

Chop the dried shitakes first and then pour very hot water over them to rehydrate and let that sit. In a pot, pour the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. When the mushrooms have rehydrated, with a strainer, pour the liquid into the pot with the broth and reserve the mushrooms. Be sure to push the liquid out of the mushrooms with a spoon.

In a 12 inch saute pan, put the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to medium high. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and cook until they are translucent (about five minutes). This is a good time to trim and cut the asparagus. 

Then add the mushrooms to the pan with the onions and cook until the mushrooms start to brown (another five minutes or so). 

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When those seem close to finished, add the barley to the pan and mix them in with the onions and mushrooms until they are slightly toasted and coated with oil (another five minutes). Pour in slowly the red wine and let the barley absorb the liquid, stirring often. Once absorbed, dip a measuring cup into the simmering broth and add a cup to the barley, stirring it in.

 

While this is absorbing, heat a tablespoon of oil in another saute pan and add the asparagus of medium heat.  Let these saute until the color starts to get a vibrant green. Keep an eye on the barley and add a cupful of broth each time it is absorbed and stir.  

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Add the spinach on top of the asparagus and let that wilt down for about a minute and then turn it so that the asparagus is on top. Keep turning it until the spinach is wilted but not overcooked. Turn off the heat once the spinach seems cooked.

This is a good time to taste the barley to see if it needs more broth. You want this cooked al dente with some bite left in the grain. Soggy won’t taste as awesome.

When the last of the liquid is absorbed and the taste of the barley tastes perfectly cooked, turn off the heat. We will come back and finish it off after cooking the chicken. 

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The chicken doesn’t need much prep…but the most important thing is to make sure that the chicken is all the same thickness. As the chicken had already been defrosting in a zip lock bag, I pounded it down to equal thickness while still in the bag.

I then took them out and patted them down with paper towels. I put a bit of grapeseed oil on each side and then added about a teaspoon of sumac and a teaspoon of flax seed, salt and pepper to taste to each side of the chicken, rubbing it in on both sides. 

ImageGet the grill clean and hot (I like my chicken cooked at about 450-500 degrees on a closed lid grill) and place the pieces on there with a LOT of space in between. Give them room to cook. When the bottom side begins to get grill marks and the side seems to become opaque, flip them. Cook until an istaread thermometer reads 160. Take them off, put them on a clean plate and stare at their gorgeousness! Smell the lemony sumac!

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Now go inside and finish up the risotto style barley. Turn the heat back up, stirring occasionally (add a bit more of the broth if needed…which should still be simmering). Add salt and pepper to taste…butter if you want to be a bit more indulgent…a splash more red wine to be SUPER indulgent… and the parmesan. Lots and lots of parmesan. Probably ended up at 1/4 cup of grated parm. I forgot that I had wanted to add parsley. Completely forgot. Could be good!

 

Serve and enjoy. We definitely did. It felt totally indulgent without being terrible for us. Comfort food, Suhlizi style.

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Overstuffed Yellow Squash Boats and Sauteed Red Wine Kale

I went all veg last night. I don’t do this THAT often (though I know I should) because, without any starches, M and I often don’t get full without a protein. I combated no protein with a tiny bit of farro. And I think it was a success. I was satiated and enjoyed the meal. And the girls LOVED it.

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As I often do, I took what I had and interpretted another recipe to make it fit my fridge. Last night I made yellow squash boats stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese (topped with toasted pine nuts, balsamic glaze and a bit of sriracha). I also made kale sauteed with red wine and yellow onion.

Squash Boats

  • 1 large squash per person
  • package of frozen spinach
  • two cups of dried mushrooms, chopped finely
  • finely sliced shallot
  • red pepper flakes
  • thyme
  • salt/pepper
  • goat cheese (frozen)

Kale

  • 1 large bag of kale, washed, torn into 1 inch pieces and rid of tough stems
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • butter
  • 1 small lemon

I made the kale first as I wanted it to sit in its juices for as long as possible. After washing and trimming the kale to rid it of the stems, I tore any large leaves into small, bit size pieces. I put them into a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and let them drain while I chopped and cooked the yellow onion.

P actually helped with most of this portion of the meal. He loved “showering” and tearing the kale and stirring the onions cooked over medium heat. He has also started to have the dexterity to grind the salt and pepper over the food so I let him do that over the onions as they started to become translucent.

Once cooked, I piled in the kale and, over medium/high heat, wilted it until to became bright green. As there was so much kale in my saute pan, I had to turn the kale often and use a large pan lid to weigh down the leaves to keep them all in. As soon as the kale was bright green, I poured in the cup of red wine left over from a few nights previous and turned the heat to low and let all of that yumminess simmer. It was also at this time that I added 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into smaller pieces, and squirted it with the juice of a small lemon. This really added a depth to the flavor. Once this was all melded together, I poured the mixture and ALL of the juice into a large bowl to sit and absorb.

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I put some water into my electric kettle and let it boil while I dried out the pan with a paper towel. I chopped the dry mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces and rinsed them in my mesh colander  When the water was boiling, I put the mushrooms in the pan and poured the hot water over them, letting them absorb the moisture. Once they were well soaked, I put them back in the mesh colander and let them drain over the sink. This last part used no heat…just reduced the number of bowls I’d have to clean later 🙂

At this time I preheated the oven to 350. The spinach was next. I popped a box of frozen chopped spinach into the pan and, after pouring a bit of hot water from the kettle over it, let the spinach defrost, stirring often and breaking it apart slowly. Once heated, I poured the spinach and its juices over the mushrooms that were still in the sink in the mesh colander. Those sat and dripped while I prepared the squash.

ImageI trimmed the ends off of the squash and cut them in half. After removing with a spoon the seeded center and setting that portion aside, I sliced a thin portion off of the bottom so that they would sit flat.

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On the hulled squash boats I added salt and pepper, a sprinkling of dry thyme and a tiny bit of finely chopped red pepper flakes. The other flavors are so subtle on this dish that it definitely needed that zing…so don’t exclude the red pepper flakes. I then sprayed it with smart balance cooking spray…but this was mostly for convenience as it was right in front of me and my olive oil was across the room. Lazy, yo.

Back at the saute pan, I toasted a handful of pine nuts and set them aside. I put a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan, heated it up and tossed in the shallot and the squash innards, letting them cook over medium high heat. I pressed the remaining liquid out of the spinach and mushrooms and then added them to the mix. I had the goat cheese in the freezer to make even distribution into the filling easier. I crumbled about three tablespoons of goat cheese onto the filling and stirred it in. Add sriracha sauce to taste at this point. I don’t like my food too hot so I just did a tiny bit and then let the others heat their food up at the end as they wished.

On a silpat lined cookie sheet, I placed the empty boats and then overstuffed them with the filling.

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I squeezed a bit of balsamic glaze over the top and put them in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once during cooking to allow for even temperature in my horrible stove. Test for doneness with a sharp knife. When it goes into the skin of the squash easily, it is ready.

While the squash is cooking, I used 1/2 a cup of the Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmered that on the stove, after bringing it to a boil, for 10 minutes. Once cooked to chewiness, I added back in the kale  mixture to heat for serving.

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Serve the kale with a slotted spoon and portion two squash boats per person. Top the squash boats with toasted pine nuts, a bit more of the goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and/or sriracha and you have yourself a delicious and incredibly healthy meal.

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