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Aug 10, 2009 04:19 PM

What sides to serve with Chicken Marbella and couscous????

I'm planning a birthday meal for my father and would like to be able to serve everything at room temperature if possible. I add dried apricots in addition to the prunes for the chicken, and the couscous has currants soaked in dry sherry as well as pine nuts, orange juice, green onions, carrots plus cinnamon and paprika. That's where my ideas come to a screeching halt! In the past I've also had Nigella's watermelon and feta salad as well as French green beans with garlic and shallots, but I'd like to do something different this time. The cake will be a strawberry one, if that helps with ideas. Thank you for helping me!

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  1. It sounds like the chicken and cous cous will be the stars of the main meal suggesting that something attractive yet non-competing complement the other two. I might go with a platter of grilled Catalan vegetables (slices of small egg plant, different colors of bell pepper, green and yellow squash spears, red onion and mushroom caps) as these can be made ahead, chilled until needed and dressed right before serving. My choice of dressing would be a simple one, some high grade olive oil, a sprinkling of Balsamic, a couple of fresh pressed garlic cloves, S/P and a healthy handful of chopped basil. These would tie in with your Middle East/Med theme and are perfectly fine chilled or at room temperature.


    1. All of the items on your menu sound great- the beans with garlic and shallots, and the watermelon salad with the chicken and the couscous. Everything is complex and highly flavoured. I would add a simple green salad with maybe some shaved fennel and a mustard vinegrette. You could also add some mediterranean dips-baba ganouch, humous, with some interesting breads for another starch. As an alternative to the dips and breads, a nice orzo salad could work.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sherry f

        Further to my post regarding orzo salad, I just stumbled on a recipe for orzo with cherry tomatoes, capers and lemons. The tomatoes are now at their best. I think if you add the aforementioned green salad and some nice breads, you are good to go. I would alos have some fruit with the cake for dessert.

      2. you've got a lot of food going on there already, so keep it simple & light. since you want to serve at room temp, a salad would be the way to go. and since the chicken & couscous (and obviously the cake) are sweet, i'd be sure to include some bitter or peppery greens (watercress, arugula, friseƩ, endive, radicchio, escarole...) to balance it out. maybe with grape or teardrop cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, and a red wine vinaigrette?

        1. Your green beans with shallots sound like the perfect match. If it ain't broke . . . ! They have a nice astringency (not really the word I'm looking for), to go with those bold flavours. Sometimes I throw some mustard seeds into the shallots while they're sauteeing (a la Madhur Jaffrey). When they start popping you toss in the blanched beans. The sugar snaps are nice this summer. But removing the string can be painstaking. I've been strewing some julienned red bell pepper among them. You could serve the watermelon salad as a separate salad course after dinner before dessert if you still wanted to do it.