Dining in with the girls – chicken and orange sort of tabbouleh


Getting friends together around the table to eat


One of the things about living in the countryside is it’s often easier to get everyone to one house, than to try and get everyone to one decent eating place (although I am very lucky having one almost on the doorstep). And also sometimes you just don’t want other people fussing round, when all you really want is a couple of hours of chat, food and wine. And even straight after work, I love to get people round the kitchen table here and get something interesting on the table and then get on with the business in hand.

As I was home alone last week, it was a good chance to get BFF and the Numbers over for dinner, and this is the dish that made it to the table, and rather rapidly disappeared, leaving no leftovers for my lunch the next day!

200g wholewheat giant cous cous (I like the Merchant Gourmet one)

1/2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil

400ml cold water

120g shelled pistachio nuts

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 orange

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tsp sea salt

1 red onion, finely sliced

500 g shredded roast chicken (or I roasted 2 chicken breasts in a little oil and rosemary the night before)

50g parsley, roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lemon


Gently heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in the pan, and then add the giant cous cous, and stir. When light golden brown, add the cold water. The instructions say stir continuously until all the water is absorbed, but to be honest, every few minutes whilst you do other things seemed okay too. Add some more water if it’s still on the hard side, but should stay slightly al dente and nutty in texture. You could leave it to go cold, serve it hot, serve it tepid, all depends on how your timings going. Mine was tepid.

Toast the pistachios and cumin seeds separtely in dry frying pans over a low heat, being very careful not to let them burn. Leave to cool on a plate.

Grate the zest from the orange into a pestle and mortar. Add the olive oil, garlic and salt, then crush to a paste. Add to the giant cous cous and mix. Remove the peel and pith from the orange, then cut into small pieces. If you wanted to be precise, then say 1cm cubes, but I really wasn’t being that precise!

Add to the cous cous with the onion, pistachios and cumin seeds, and mix. Pile onto a large plate or platter, then pile the shredded chicken on the top, drizzle with a little olive oil and then scatter the parsley on top. Serve, and get your spoon in quick, this disappeared rapidly. Next time, I’m making double the quantity, and I may try it with salmon or pork for a change.

A glass, or two, of Sainsburys Cava worked very well alongside this dish of many flavours, and contrasting textures. One that might not wait too long for a repeat performance.


Photo by Nomadic Girl on Flickr, as the dish went too quickly for me to get a photo of it!


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Helen Tarver

Collector of great gifts and fabulous food, mum, cake baker & eater, wine opener. I write about food and the gift of it in its many forms.

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