Common Ground

If you ask my husband what he has in common with his wife, he will not blink before he tells you "Nothing." Nothing is an exaggeration, which is fully appropriate given that one of the myriad of nicknames I refer to him as is "MG The Drama King".

Certainly, we have tons of things in common. Our at least five. We love music – although, this may be misleading as he is in another room as I type listening to old reggae on vinyl & I'm pretending to clean our bedroom while listening to Rihanna. Okay, so we both love music and sometimes our likes intersect, but we can both (for the most part) appreciate the other's tastes. We love family. We love books. And we love food. I think these are enough likes to take us through a lifetime. Besides, once a sweet, little old lady told me that it doesn't matter what your interests are as long as you could figure it out in the bedroom. Imagine that from someone in their late seventies. Yeah. That's how I felt too.

So, food. Yes – it is the tie that binds. We both love it. Sophisticated or low-brow. Made by me, or by someone who wears a uniform & just wants you to get through the drive-thru and out of their way. Once, I was really angry with him and cooked a dinner that upon his first bite, he remarked "You didn't make this with love!" It's true – I hadn't, and GOOD THAT YOU NOTICED, SIR!

And for that love of food, I'd like to share a recipe with you. I keep saying that I'm going to, and I never do. I still take pictures of most things that I eat – but sometimes they fail to make it their way into the virtual ether. This is not "my" recipe, but it's one that since I've made it – my husband can't stop reminding me of how delicious it is. So, I'm hoping that you'll make it for someone, that you both will love it – and you'll have that something in common*

Chicken with Israeli Couscous, Spinach, and Feta

Serves 2

Note: Israeli couscous is larger than traditional couscous and therefore must be simmered. orzo can be substituted.**

1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

2 (6- to 8- ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed***

Table salt and ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3/4 c. Israeli couscous (see note above)

1 shallot, minced (about 3 Tbsp.)

3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 Tbsp.)

1/2 tsp. grated zest plus 3 Tbsp. fresh juice from 1 lemon

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

6 oz. baby spinach (about 6 cups)

2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 c.)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with one breats at a time, dredget the chicken in the flour, shaking off excess. (Sometimes we skip this step.)

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook until well browned on the first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken breasts, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate, tent loosly wiht foil, and let rest in the warm oven while prepping the couscous.

3. Wipe out the skillet with a wad of paper towels. Add 1 Tbsp. more oil and the couscous to the skillet and toast over medium heat until light golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shallot, 2 tsp. of the garlic, 1/4 tsp. of the lemon zest, and 1/8 tsp. of the pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, whisk 1 Tbsp. of the lemon juice, remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil, remaining 1 tsp. garlic, remaining 1/4 tsp. lemon zest and remaining 1/8 tsp. pepper flakes together in a small bowl.

6. Stir in the spinach, one handful at a time, into the skillet and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the feta and remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the couscous between two plates and top with the chicken. Drizzle with the lemon juice mixture and serve.

*Thank you to Rachelleb for introducing this dish to my household, the cookbook that this comes from is a great one.

**Israeli couscous is SO good. Orzo would not have the same zip. Also, the basics of making this couscous are entirely malleable. I have made it with vegetable broth. With/without the spinach and feta and every single time my husband tells me how much he enjoys it.

***Dark meat is king in my house, so I often just use chicken thighs – not floured at all, but lightly seasoned with a bit of seasoned salt/garlic powder and then pan fried.