Thanks to fresh mint and lemon zest, this stuffing has plenty of vibrancy. For a quick flavor switch, try cilantro or basil instead of mint, and walnuts instead of pine nuts. Use a spoon to pack in the couscous; most of it will stay put as you saute the chicken, but any that falls out won’t burn.
1/2 cup couscous
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, (6 to 8 ounces each)
In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add couscous; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and remove from heat; let steam 5 minutes. Add mint, pine nuts, scallions, lemon zest and juice, and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper, and fluff with a fork.
Lay chicken flat on a work surface. With a paring knife, cut a 2-inch-long slit in the thick side of each breast. Insert knife, and pivot inside chicken without enlarging opening, carefully forming a deep pocket (make sure not to pierce the opposite side). Stuff each breast with an equal amount of couscous mixture, packing it tightly.
In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in skillet, and cook until browned on one side, 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over, and add 1/2 cup water to skillet (a little couscous may fall out). Cover, and cook until chicken is opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes more.
Everyday Food, September 2007