Something about the cold weather in January makes me feel cooped up, and like clock work, my nostalgia kicks in. This is how it goes…
The Holidays are over and it takes about a week to decompress and become a working human again. During that time I’m content, but then my mind starts to wander. I start thinking about the trips I took last year and begin thumbing through past vacation pics. That’s when the nostalgia kicks in, and alas…the planning of my next big trip ensues, all thanks to my ever-so-productive weekends as a result of “dry January”.
Well maybe thats just me, but either way, my mind was all over central Europe for the better half of last week. David and I have been lucky enough to explore Italy and Greece over the past two summers, and parts of our trip that stick out the most…THE FOOD.
There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet continues to be the best diet year after year. It’s because its DELICIOUS…or is it healthy? Either way, I was busy day dreaming of my endless greek salads, hummus, kebabs, unadulterated olive oil, and the wonderful wonderful pasta dishes, when I decided to experiment with my own version of mediterranean cuisine.
Nostalgia…you are officially considered CURED thanks to this Harissa chicken dish. Which by the way, reminds me of a mediterranean style baked ziti (only better for you than the original version)! Albeit Harissa isn’t an every day household condiment, it has become widely available here in the US. Harissa is a chili based paste that is used throughout North Africa, originating in Tunisia. It has a nice kick to it and a wonderful naturally occurring red color that gives its dishes some PIZZAZZ.
I combined the Harissa with coconut cream to give it a rich and creamy consistency, before mixing in gluten free Banza penne pasta, then topping with chicken thighs, and popping it all in the oven to bake! Once it’s done cooking, you can garnish with cilantro and limes before you lay that pretty little thing out on the table for everyone to dig into.
And don’t be afraid to sneak yourself a second serving since its filled with protein, healthy fats, and fiber to keep you full and satisfied! Serve with a traditional greek salad, which can easily be thrown together while this is baking, and you have yourself a meal that originated almost 5,000 miles away!
Spicy Harissa Chicken Bake
- 2 tbsp organic grass fed butter
- 2 tbsp almond flour
- 1 13 oz can coconut cream
- 2 tbsp harissa paste
- 1 8 oz bag Banza chickpea penne or other gluten free pasta alternative
- 1-1.5 lbs organic chicken thigh
- 1 tbsp EVOO or avocado oil
- 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, garlic, and turmeric each
- 1 lime juice
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Boil a pot of water and partially cook penne so that it is al dente. Drain, rinse under cool water, and set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.
- While butter is melting, pour coconut cream into a mixing bowl and whisk in harissa paste until blended together.
- Add almond flour to melted butter in the skillet and whisk ingredients together until buttery clumps are formed.
- Slowly pour in coconut and harissa mixture in stages, and make sure to constantly whisk. This will thicken your sauce.
- Once all of your coconut mixture is whisked into the skillet, pour penne into skillet and stir so that it is evenly coated by sauce.
- Take chicken thighs and lay them on top of the penne. In a small bowl, mix together oil and spices. Brush oil and spice mixture over top of the chicken thighs.
- Take 1/2 of a lime and squeeze juice over top of chicken thighs. Bake in oven for 30 min.
- When finished cooking, garnish with cilantro and lime wedges from other 1/2 of lime before serving. Squeeze fresh lime juice over cooked harissa chicken if desired.