I was lucky enough to be invited to do a guest post over at Paleo Parents and, of course, jumped at the chance! I wanted to challenge myself a little and come up with an Autoimmune Protocol-compliant dish, which means this is grain, sugar, egg, nut, seed and nightshade free. Phew, that’s a mouthful. In the process of making this, I’ve been inspired to make other AIP dishes. As a result, now you can find AIP and Nightshade Free recipes here, so I have Matt and Stacy to thank for that, too!
Grain free couscous? It doesn’t sound too plausible at first.
For many years I was a vegetarian. Looking at how I eat now, that seems almost laughable, particularly since I probably eat more actual fruit and vegetables now than I ever used to as a vegetarian. I don’t miss a lot about those days – boy, was I always hungry! There are numerous things I used to consume as staples which will never come near my body ever again. I’m looking at you, textured vegetable protein! Not to mention the proliferation of soy products. But there are still certain things I find myself missing or even craving. I had a veritable hummus obsession, not to mention a near-daily couscous habit. While I have not yet conquered the legume-free hummus problem, I think I’ve finally found a way to get that “grain salad” type dish back into my life again. It may sound a little strange to go looking for that grain texture, but for me so many of those dishes were comfort food. This Paleo version still delivers the same satisfaction. Without the resultant stomach ache and brain fog. Yay!
While cauliflower rice stands in pretty well for a lot of dishes, it just didn’t feel right to me in my earlier attempts at making grain free “couscous”. It was too firm, which meant that it didn’t come close to having the fluffiness to it that I wanted. Using cooked ground chicken “riced” in the same way using my food processor gave a softer texture which reminded me of the larger Israeli couscous I used to love so much. The method for making the “couscous” is pretty simple: cook the chicken through over a low-medium heat so it doesn’t dry out. Lay the chicken out on a few paper towels for a minute or so to absorb any excess moisture, then pulse in a food processor just like you do for cauliflower rice. You now have an incredibly versatile base for all kinds of salad options!
This salad is tasty when freshly made, but I highly recommend that you make it the day before you want to eat it. Refrigerated overnight, the flavors meld together beautifully, the kale softens but doesn’t wilt and you have a gorgeous lunch ready to go, perfect for work or school. Lastly, a note on salt in this dish. I opted not to add any additional salt because the particular artichoke hearts I used were in a brine. In fact, I drained and rinsed them so as not to overwhelm the dish with too much salt. Please feel free to season to taste!
- 1.25 lbs ground chicken
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- ¼ - ½ cup diced red onion, to taste
- 4 oz (or more!) baby kale leaves, chopped
- 1 cup quartered artichoke hearts - if in brine, draine & rinse before using
- Juice of one lemon
- Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 4 sprigs-worth of fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil to taste
- Heat a large flat bottomed pan or skillet with the coconut oil over a low - medium heat. Add the ground chicken to the pan, breaking up with the back of a spoon and cook through until no pink remains, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and lay out to dry for a few minutes on some paper towel. Reserve any chicken juices in the pan for later.
- Using a food processor, pulse the cooked chicken into large crumbs as if you were "ricing" a cauliflower. Don't overprocess or you get paste!
- Add the chopped cooked chicken to a large salad bowl.
- Chop the baby kale leaves, red onion, cilantro and mint leaves. Add to the bowl.
- Drain the artichoke hearts of any brine or oil, rinsing if necessary, then slice into strips and add to the bowl with the lemon juice, reserved chicken juices and as much extra virgin olive oil as you like. Toss to combine.
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