Greek Chicken With Vegetable Couscous and Tzatziki

If you’re anything like me, you have to give this recipe a chance.

I used to be the kind of guy that would scoff at the notion of couscous, but what is admittedly a rather dull ingredient can be combined with other ingredients to make a delicious meal.

I implore anyone who is unfamiliar with Greek cuisine to try this recipe. While I’m not going to say that it’s authentic Greek (after all, I’ve never even been to Greece), it does provide a nice little introduction to Mediterranean eating. And as always, it’s good for you and easy to make.

Ingredients

Serves 2 / takes ~15 mins

For the couscous:

  • ½ cup couscous (not pre-cooked)
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (and de-seeded if you’re not a fan of spicy food)
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • A few halved olives (omit if you hate olives!)
  • A small handful of fresh dill (dried is fine)

For the chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts, whole
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Glug of olive oil

For the tzatziki:

  • ½ a cucumber, finely grated with excess water poured off
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • A small handful of fresh mint (dried is fine)

Instructions

Pound the chicken with a rolling pin until about ½” thick then toss with salt, pepper, oregano, allspice, lemon and olive oil until well coated. Place under a grill on a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turning once.

Put the couscous and peas – well seasoned with salt and pepper – in a pot with 1 cup of boiling water over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Combine the tzatziki ingredients in a bowl, mix well and season.

After 5 minutes, add the remaining vegetables and dill to the couscous and stir well. Leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated.

Remove the chicken from under the grill and slice. Place the couscous on a plate, put the chicken on top, then finish by pouring the tzatziki and crumbling feta over the whole thing.

Chicken Tikka, Lentil and Spinach Salad

If you associate salads with a lack of flavor, this recipe will knock you for six. In reality, it is about as far removed from a salad as a meal can be while still being called a salad. I’m no salad fan but this is one of my lunchtime staples – that’s the greatest endorsement I can give it.

Jamie Oliver provided the original inspiration for this recipe, but I have taken his creation and drastically simplified it. What’s left is meal with a depth of flavor that defies its simplicity.

Ingredients

Serves 2 / takes ~15 mins

  • 2 breasts chicken, sliced
  • 2 tsp tikka paste
  • Splash of oil (I recommend rapeseed)
  • 6 chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 spring onions or 1 small/medium white onion
  • 1 red chilli, chopped (and de-seeded if you’re not a fan of spicy food)
  • 1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ 400g tin green lentils in water, drained
  • A splodge of tomato puree
  • A splash of red wine vinegar
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Enough baby spinach to cover two plates
  • A liberal crumbling of feta cheese for each plate
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 heaped tsp mango chutney
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Throw the chicken into a frying pan over a medium heat with the oil and tikka paste. Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 mins.

While the chicken is cooking, chop the onion and chili and throw them in when you’re done.

Throw all of the other ingredients (minus the sauce, spinach and feta) into the pan and stir to combine. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

While that’s going on, stir the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.

Once the chicken is cooked through, serve on a bed of spinach. Pour the sauce over the top and finish off your masterpiece by crumbling feta over everything.

How to Poach Eggs Perfectly (Every Time)

Poached eggs, in my opinion, are at the pinnacle of egg gastronomy. They represent that perfect culinary mix of healthy (exceptionally healthy in fact) and tasty. They can help you to lose weight too. But that’s not all – they’re really easy to make, despite what you may think.

While there’s something about poaching an egg that puts the fear of God into many people, in reality there is a very simple process you can follow to nail poached eggs every time. I’m going to share that process with you below.

Instructions

Bring a pot of water (about 6″ diameter will work) to the boil. As a rule of thumb, the depth of the water should be just about enough to submerge a whole egg on its side.

Reduce the heat to low/medium. You want to hit that sweet spot where the water is just not simmering. The key is to have the water as hot as possible without there being any bubbles (which tend to disrupt the “togetherness” of the egg).

Once you’ve got the water to the right temperature, crack the egg into the middle of the pot carefully. If this proves a little challenging, crack the egg into a cup first, then pour it from the cup into the water.

Set your timer for between 3 ½ and 4 ½ minutes, depending on how you like your eggs done.

After the allotted time, use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water and lay it upon a folded sheet of paper towel to soak up the remaining water. I recommend you place the egg yolk down, so that it is the right way up once it’s on your plate.

After a few seconds you can pick up the paper towel and gently flip the egg onto your plate.

Congratulations! You just nailed poaching an egg.

Notes

You’ve probably been told 101 things about how to poach an egg: make sure the egg is at room temperature, include a splash of vinegar or some salt in the water, spin the water before placing the egg in to create a vortex, and so on. None of those steps are necessary.

When poaching more than one egg at once, make sure that you don’t put them all in too quickly, because each new egg will temporarily reduce the temperature of the water.

Speaking of multiple eggs, in my experience, three is about as many as you can do at once without things getting a little hairy (but you’ll need an 8″ or so diameter pan to do it). If you want to take up the challenge and try more, you have my awe and respect.

If you want to poach lots of eggs (perhaps you want to impress your family on a Sunday morning), do them in batches of three but take 30 seconds off the cooking time. When time is up, remove each egg from the water and immediately submerge them in ice water. They’ll happily live there for as long as you want them to. When you’re ready to serve your eggs, place them back in the water for 30 seconds to heat them back up and complete the poaching process and you’re good to go!

How to Chop Fresh Herbs

Many people view herbs as more trouble than they’re worth, but they’re missing out on a world of flavor. While dried herbs are okay (and certainly better than nothing), you cannot beat fresh herbs. With that in mind, in this brief article I want to reveal the easiest way to chop fresh herbs. I hope that by doing so, you are encouraged to incorporate them into your cooking more often.

For us mere mortals, chopping herbs can be a pain in the ass. We’re not blessed with awesome knife skills and herbs are fiddly. Fortunately, I have the solution: don’t chop them. Instead, grab your herb of choice in your fist and just start snipping away with a pair of kitchen scissors.

I’m not kidding. Why spend all that time chopping when you can just cut them up easily enough? We’re not trying to prepare gourmet food here – what’s the big deal if your herbs are roughly chopped? I like the rustic look. Most of the time, I’ll cut my herbs directly onto the food I’m preparing (or serving). What could be easier?

If you do want to chop your herbs finely, you still don’t need to resort to a knife. Just press your herbs into the bottom of a tall glass, then get your scissors in there and start snipping away. You’ll have a glass full of finely chopped herbs in no time at all. Simple!

Simple, Healthy and Tasty Chicken Stir-Fry

This quick and easy meal is a regular at lunchtime for me, but with one simple addition it is versatile enough to enjoy for dinner too.

Speaking of versatile, although I have included my preferred list of vegetables below, you can chuck practically anything (within reason) in this and still produce a delicious meal. While the ingredients list may look imposing, don’t worry – it is really easy to make.

Ingredients

Serves 2 / takes ~15 mins

  • 2 breasts chicken, skin removed, sliced thinly
  • 2 servings udon noodles (I’ll include these for dinner or omit them for lunch)
  • 4 spring onions (chopped), or 1 red onion or 1 medium white onion (halved and sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (an alternative is fine if you don’t have it)
  • One inch of ginger, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
  • Handful of peas
  • One carrot, thinly sliced
  • Half a red pepper, halved and sliced
  • Six mushrooms, sliced
  • Two handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • Handful of beansprouts
  • A generous splash of soy sauce
  • A small splash of mirin or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cube (or equivalent) chicken stock, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • Small sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • Handful of coriander, roughly chopped (fresh ideally, dried if not)
  • A few strips of pickled ginger

Instructions

Put a wok over a low heat and pour in a tbsp of sesame oil. Throw in the chicken, keep things moving and fry for a couple of minutes.

Prepare any of the vegetables that will take longer to cook (such as the carrots) first. Throw them in as you chop them, with exception to the spinach and beansprouts.

Once all of the vegetables (minus exceptions) are in the wok, turn the heat up high and add the soy sauce and mirin. Continue to stir.

Once the liquid has begun to evaporate (after a minute or so), add the chicken stock cube, then the spinach. Stir until wilted.

Add the beansprouts and fry off for just 10-20 seconds.

Finally, add the egg. Make sure it separates and combines with all the ingredients – keep things moving!

After 30-60 seconds, take the wok off the heat, throw in the coriander and stir. Serve up, then put the pickled ginger on top and top off with the sesame seeds.

Notes

  • The key here is to slice and chop everything finely. Because everything will only be on the heat for a relatively short amount of time, thinner slices will ensure that the ingredients are still cooked.
  • You can make this meal a lot more convenient (as I do) with shortcut ingredients like the Very Lazy range available here in the UK.
  • For a big change of flavor, replace the chicken with a couple of salmon fillets.
  • Other vegetables to consider throwing into the mix: broccoli (tenderstem or regular), bok choy, snow peas and water chestnuts.

Sausage and Lentil One-Pot Casserole

I know of few meals that are easy to make, truly healthy and absolutely delicious. That’s why I tend to make my sausage and lentil one-pot casserole once or twice per week without fail – it has all three bases covered. I have to stop myself from eating it more often so that I don’t grow bored of it.

Ingredients

Serves 2 / takes ~20 mins

  • Six high quality (80%+ pork) sausages
  • One small/medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Six medium white mushrooms, quartered
  • Splodge of tomato puree
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin green lentils in water
  • 1 tbsp oil (I used rapeseed)
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Splash of Tabasco
  • Small handful of sage and thyme (dried is fine)
  • 1 cube (or equivalent) pork stock
  • Pepper to season

Instructions

Put the sausages under a grill on a medium/high heat. You’ll want to turn them over when the skin is browning – after 10-15 minutes – and give them another 5 minutes.

Fry the onions, garlic and mushrooms over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low heat.

Once the sausages are cooked, cut them into 1/2″ thick pieces and throw them in the pot.

Stir together, season with pepper to taste and serve.

Notes

  • This is a highly versatile dish – for example, you could do a Spanish version with chicken, chorizo, peppers and chillies. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
  • If you’re not a lentils fan, sub them for borlotti or kidney beans.

The Healthy Enough Guide to Cooking

I’ll soon be featuring my favorite recipes on Healthy Enough. Each one will be damn good for you without any compromises on flavor. No bland Weight Watchers crap – I’m talking about easy-to-make food that tastes great and makes your body happy. I can say this with confidence as each meal I feature will be one I eat on a regular basis.

But before I get started with the recipes, I want to run a few things by you in this article – my principles for cooking, if you will. My reasons for doing so are twofold:

  1. To give you the freedom to cook as you please (not necessarily as my recipes dictate)
  2. To persuade you that cooking can actually be enjoyable if you’re not currently a fan

If you’re already on board with the notion that cooking is fun, read on so you know how to tackle the upcoming recipes here on Healthy Enough. On the other hand, if you’re skeptical about the idea of cooking for yourself, it’s about time you learned just how much fun it can be.

Recipes Should Be Guides, Not Instruction Manuals

Unless precise measurements are essential (such as when making a cake), I never follow recipes to the letter. Why? Because doling out precise measurements is boring. It’s much more fun to pour, sprinkle and drop as you see fit.

But don’t just stop with freestyling measurements. Don’t be afraid to add and remove ingredients to match your tastes. Recipes are there to be shaped and moulded into something that matches your tastes perfectly – not the tastes of whoever dreamt it up. After all, he probably “borrowed” the recipe from somebody else and made some adjustments to suit. You’re just continuing the trend.

There are many reasons to treat recipes as a guide rather than an instruction manual, but my favorite is that it gives you ownership of your meal. If you have friends around and cook for them, what sounds better: telling them that you copied the recipe out of a book, or telling them that you took inspiration from a recipe and created something unique?

Low Fat / Low Sugar Can Be Seriously Tasty

There are so many things you can do to make a meal less calorific without reducing its tastiness. I’m not talking about bullshit “low fat” meals that add a load of sugar as a replacement or anything like that – I’m simply talking about tasty meals that are good for you.

It’s amazing just how much depth of flavor you can extract from good quality ingredients. For example, consider tinned tomatoes. Half a tin will set you back about fifty calories but can serve as the base for a delicious sauce. Herbs and spices can add all sorts of flavor and texture to a meal with no noticeable caloric impact.

One of my favorite “healthy food hacks” is to use guacamole in place of heavy cream in a sauce. You’ll get the same creamy texture, but the meal will be far healthier. Take it from me: low calorie and/or healthy ingredients do not necessarily lead to a compromise on taste.

Don’t Be Afraid to Innovate

Carrying on along the same vein, if you don’t have a particular ingredient for a recipe, that does not mean you cannot make the meal. Many ingredients can be substituted or left out altogether without the food being ruined.

Take my recipe for lentil and sausage casserole as an example. In all its glory, ingredients include tomato puree, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, Sage and Thyme. However, I could leave all of those ingredients out and still have a tasty end product. You might even put something else in to give the meal an extra dimension in lieu of missing ingredients – how about a dash of balsamic vinegar?

So many ingredients add hints of depth and flavor but are not necessary if you don’t have them to hand. Next time you’re missing a particular non-vital ingredient, don’t sweat it – just make do.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

When it comes to “normal” cooking, recipes should almost always be stupendously simple – complications are rarely necessary.

For instance, did you know that if you chop a carrot and fry it over a low heat in a little butter for about twenty minutes, you’ll get something that practically tastes like candy? (Thank you Eat By Date!) Or how about the aforementioned tinned tomatoes – heat them gently on the hob and they will soon thicken and sweeten into a sauce that you can use over pasta, in a casserole, or in a myriad of other situations.

Just one ingredient, cooked or prepared in a certain way, can taste awesome. Combine that ingredient with just a handful of others and you can create delicious meals. While top chefs may take pride in creating extremely complex dishes, the rest of us can rest easy in the knowledge that great-tasting meals can be produced without complication.

Be Creative

I’d like to invite you to experiment and try new things.

Got a bunch of ingredients in your fridge that are on their way out? See how you might combine them to form something truly tasty. The more you cook, the more you’ll appreciate how different ingredients can compliment each other (or not). I can’t understate how rewarding it is to be able to pick out a bunch of ingredients and create a tasty meal at will. It’s really not as difficult as it sounds.

Although I’ll be sharing plenty of recipes with you over the coming weeks and months, don’t ever be afraid to try something yourself. And when you do, please be sure to share your creations with us via Facebook or Twitter!

Enjoy!

Most of all, make sure that you enjoy the process of cooking food. For those of you who hate the idea of cooking, this may seem impossible, but I assure you that it is not.

The key to enjoying cooking is to take on board all of the things discussed above. Keep it simple. Be creative. Compromise when necessary. Treat recipes like guides rather than instructions. And create your own recipes using your burgeoning understanding of how different ingredients compliment each other.

Don’t make the process of cooking a to-and-fro between the recipe book and your stove. Grab all your ingredients and get going! If you screw it up, shit happens – you’ll learn how not to screw it up next time around. The more you cook, the better you’ll get and the more you’ll enjoy the process.

Bon appétit!