Recently skorzy and I went to Napa with some NorCal friends, commodoremarie and mooglepower, and at Marie's suggestion we started out at the Saddleback Cellars winery. They had an amazing Chardonnay that we fell in love with. I don't normally care for Chardonnay, but this had all the right notes without being too bitey, it was really mellow. Marie can probably better describe it because she's better with the wine lingo, but needless to say, it was amazing. I wanted to make a dinner that paired well with this wine.
Mediterranean Lemon Chicken with Spaghetti Squash
Your best bet is to start off making the spaghetti squash, since while that is baking you can do the prep for the chicken and get that going.
This recipe I got from our friend stevefoxx who first introduced me to spaghetti squash in general. He made it for dinner once and I was so impressed, I just had to get the recipe! I thought this side dish would go well with the flavor profile of the chicken, and bonus, it fits well with my paleo/primal influenced diet.
-1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded (be very careful doing this, they can be hard! Use a sharp knife)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion)
-1 clove garlic, minced (I used the jarred garlic you can buy in bulk)
-1 1/2 cups chopped roma tomatoes
-3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
-3 tablespoons sliced kalamata olives
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet
2. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled
3. While it's cooling, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion until tender. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook until they're warm (not mushy, just slightly cooked)
4. Use a fork to scrape stringy spaghetti squash pulp out of the halves and place in a medium bowl. Toss onion/tomato/garlic mixture in with olives, feta cheese and basil. Serve warm
The original recipe called for regular black olives but since I'm using kalamata olives already in the other recipe, I went with that. I like them better anyways. Mmm salty :)
Start this while the spaghetti squash is baking.
-1/4 cup butter (or ghee), or coconut oil (I used butter)
-1/2 lb kalamata olives, cut in half
-8 chicken thighs with bones and skin (No one but me likes chicken thighs in this house so I used 3 chicken breasts. I would have preferred it with thighs but the family loved it so, whatever)
-10 tsp minced jarred garlic (or 30 cloves fresh garlic, mashed into a paste)
-1/2 cup lemon juice (I used fresh lemons from our back yard! Yum!)
-2 extra lemons, thickly sliced (remove the seeds with a knife)
-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
-a bunch of picked thyme leaves
-Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
-Your oven is already preheated to 350 degrees because the squash is in there. Good! Leave it that way, because you're going to pop this mixture in there and do a swap out
-Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a dutch oven or large hot pan with a lid and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. It will take about 6 minutes total (I did the chicken breasts 3 minutes on each side). Set the chicken aside on a plate
-Cook onions until soft, approximately 3 minutes
-Add garlic and cook for another minute. At this point you can add your salt and pepper
-Add chicken stock, thyme, and lemon juice. Deglaze the pan with the acid from the lemon juice and get all that chickeny goodness off the sides of the pan. Return your chicken to the pan (if using thighs, skin side up)
-Bring to a simmer and put the Dutch oven, covered, into the oven for 20 minutes
-After 20 minutes is up, put in the olives and lemon slices, and bake for another 15-20 minutes uncovered
-Serve the chicken with the olive, garlic, and lemon sauce as well as some of the lemon slices.
The perfect bite is getting an olive with a piece of the cooked lemon (yep, peel and all, it's softened in the chicken juice) with some of the chicken. Oh my goodness YES! I don't feel this dish needs a lot of added salt if you eat the bites with the olives, since they're salty. Without the olives, yeah, needs salt.
My only real complaint is that there's all this amazing broth left over. Normally, if I were eating that sort of thing, I would have served this with couscous to sop up all of that broth, but I'm not really sure how to do that now on a no grain diet? I mean, I sometimes allow myself SOME gimmes like 1/2 a cup of rice or something, but I wonder if there's a paleo friendly alternative to a sop.
The spaghetti squash was a hit, and just one of them served 3 people with ample leftovers. The recipe says it can serve 6, so...be prepared for lots of squash.
And for those curious, it paired AMAZINGLY well with the wine :) Would do again!