Baked Chicken and Zucchini with Fruit

This perhaps doesn’t look Moroccan, and probably isn’t traditional – since it’s another recipe from the cookbook “Moroccan Modern”. But nonetheless, it is Moroccan flavors stuffed inside a chicken breast, wrapped in phyllo and baked, yum! Both of these recipes make enough to serve two – and could make a nice meal together.

Harissa Baked Chicken
2 chicken breasts, smaller ones work better
2 tsp. Harissa paste
1 preserved lemon rind, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Phyllo pastry sheets
melted butter
2 artichoke hearts, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced and deseeded
1 tsp. cumin seeds

Preheat the oven to 300F.  Prepare the chicken breasts by cutting into each one and stuffing the cavity with Harissa paste, cilantro, and thinly sliced preserved lemon. You can do this part ahead, kind of like a marinade that soaks into the chicken.

Stack 4 sheets of phyllo dough on top of each other, brushing each one with melted butter. Pat out any extra moisture from the chicken, artichoke and tomatoes before assembly (I had problems with the phyllo getting soggy on the bottom while baking, and I think this step plus seeding the tomatoes will help). Lay slices of artichoke and tomato onto the middle of the phyllo, then lay the chicken breast on top. Wrap up in phyllo dough and use more melted butter to brush all over, place the wrapped package seam-side down (artichoke/tomato-side up) in a baking dish. Repeat with second chicken breast. Sprinkle with cumin seeds.

Bake for at least 40 minutes, maybe 10-15 minutes more if the chicken is on the thick side. Let rest a few minutes before serving. If it gets soggy on the bottom like mine, no worries, it still tastes really good!

Adapted from: Moroccan Modern, by Hassan M’Souli

To go along with this dish, I made a roasted zucchini, apple and orange side dish. It’s pretty, tangy, and full of vitamins – what more could you ask?

Slada gharaa bil tofah (Roasted Zucchini Salad)
1 zucchini, trimmed and cut into large strips
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 orange, peeled and cut into small sections
1 tsp. preserved lemon peel, sliced thinly
mint leaves for garnish
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the zucchini with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes in a baking pan just big enough to hold it all in a single layer. Add the green apple and roast for the final 5 minutes with zucchini. Remove from oven and don’t stir (I had trouble with the apple falling apart, so I am recommending that you add it later in the process and don’t stir). Mix together lemon juice and honey and pour over the top. Put pan back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, or until starting to brown nicely. Let it cool in the pan without disturbing zucchini and apple.

Meanwhile, peel and cut the orange over a plate or bowl to catch the extra orange juice. Stir the roasted apple and zucchini in with the orange sections. Stir the orange juice into the pan juices from roasting and pour over the salad mixture. Season with salt to taste and scatter the top with preserved lemon peel and mint leaves. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Adapted from: Flavors of Morocco, by Ghillie Basan

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