Thursday, 11 September 2014

Harissa Chicken with Spiced Puy Lentil and Tomato Stew and Steamed Green Beans - All-in-one (universal) Thermomix Meal

Tender chicken on a bed of lentils and tomatoes, rich with aromatic spices and fresh herbs, served with fresh green beans.

All in one meals don't have to mean rice or potatoes in the internal basket every time, and this healthy and delicious lentil and tomato stew is packed with different flavours and textures and is cooked at the Varoma temperature making it perfect for steaming vegetables and harissa-spiked chicken (or fish) at the same time.

       Harissa chicken and lentil stew thermomix

The harissa chicken couldn't be simpler, with only 4 ingredients, and with the lentils, the Thermomix does all of the hard work for you! The lentil dish in itself is vegan, so if you wanted to make this into a vegan or vegetarian main dish, you could miss out the chicken, and add extra vegetables, and top with some crumbled feta (not vegan), and/or roast some spiced squash or sweet potato wedges and red peppers in the oven.

Harissa-spiced lamb, or firm white fish steaks or salmon would work equally well with these flavours, but lamb would probably be better grilled, griddled or barbecued, and you would need to put the fish on for less time.

Serves up to six (chicken and green bean servings can be to suit you, see ingredients below - you can freeze or chill the extra cooked lentils if you make this for less than six (which is what I do), but I don't recommend reducing the quantities etc. as they are calculated to have enough liquid to cook in and steam the chicken and vegetables, and may dry out and/or burn).

Calorie information

171 calories per serving of lentil stew (between six - or you could divide it between four more hungry people!); 173 calories per serving of harissa chicken, and 23 calories per serving of green beans (total 367 calories per serving). [Calories per portions]


For the Harissa Chicken

Up to 6 small chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless (130g each, or you will need to change cooking times - a chicken breast being the fillet from one half of the chicken's chest) [143 calories each]
About 1/2 tsp (mild) smoked paprika per chicken breast [3]

For the Marinade
1/2 a 15ml tbsp (or 7.5g) harissa paste* per chicken breast (or more to taste!) [29]
1 x 15ml tbsp plain yoghurt (or 15g) per chicken breast (you could leave out the yoghurt if you're intolerant to dairy. I used Yeo Valley Organic) [25]
Fine sea salt

*Harissa paste - you can use ready-made, such as Al'fez brand, which is made of natural ingredients and has no nasty additives or have a go at making your own - my other half's recipe is here, which will give you enough for marinade for 4 chicken breasts, or scale it up to suit you).

For the Lentil and Tomato Stew
200g Puy lentils [614]
Large handful each of fresh coriander and flat leaf parsley leaves (a good 10g each) [6]
3 cloves garlic (or to taste!) [18]
1 large red chilli pepper, de-seeded [7]
1/2 tbsp olive oil (7.5ml - not extra virgin, or your preferred oil) [68]
1 large red onion (or white is fine - around 150g) [63]
2 tsp ground cumin [16]
2 tsp ground coriander [12]
2 tsp ground cinnamon [10]
1 tsp ground turmeric [7]
650ml vegetable or chicken stock (cold - or e.g. 1.5 stock cubes, and 650g cold water) [26]
1 x 400ml tin chopped tomatoes [100]
2 x 15ml tbsp (30g) lemon juice [8]
1 small punnet cherry tomatoes (recommended) or 3 large vine tomatoes (330g) [66]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper [1]

For the Steamed Green Beans
80g fine or French green beans per person, trimmed (or substitute your preferred vegetables and check on cooking time for steaming - add hardest vegetables first) [23 calories per serving]


Prepare the chicken
Mix together the harissa paste and yoghurt with salt to taste (depending on how many servings it is - around a pinch per serving - you can give it a quick taste before adding the chicken). You might find this easiest to do by weighing it into a bowl sitting on top of the Thermomix - for the harissa you need 7.5g for one chicken breast, 15g for two, 30g for 4, 45g for six etc.; and for the yoghurt you need 15g for one serving, 30g for two, 60g for four and 90g for six. Add the chicken breasts to it and coat thoroughly. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. If you're being organised, you could always do this an hour or two in advance and leave to marinade longer.

Just before you're ready to start cooking everything, take a sheet of greaseproof baking paper large enough to fit in the top Varoma tray, scrumple it up and wet it (then squeeze out any excess water), it's a great base to steam things which keeps your steamer from being covered in sauces and juices (especially if it's difficult to clean). Just make sure you don't flatten it completely and leave some space for the steam to come through the holes.

Put your dampened greaseproof paper in the top Varoma tray, leaving space around the edges for the steam to come through, place the chicken on it (leaving as many gaps as you can, especially if you're cooking six breasts) with any remaining marinade, and sprinkle with the smoked paprika. Put the lid on, and set aside, ready to cook. Don't put the beans in the bottom of the Varoma yet.

Start the lentil stew
Weigh out the 200g of Puy lentils into a sieve, or the internal steaming basket, and set aside.

Deal with the fresh herbs next. Reserve a few sprigs to garnish, then wash the herbs, and drop through the lid onto running blades, Speed 8. Scrape out the herbs (a flexible spatula is easiest - being wet, they will have stuck to the wall and be pretty easy to get out all together) - don't worry if there are a few leaves left - and set aside (covered in the fridge is best).

The lentil and tomato stew served separately.
Peel the garlic and onion, and chop the onion into large chunks. Cut the de-seeded chilli into 1-2cm pieces, and drop the chilli and garlic onto running blades, Speed 8. Turn the blades off (don't scrape down yet), add the 1/2 tbsp oil and then turn on to Speed 4, drop the onion onto the running blades, and leave to run for about 5 seconds until roughly chopped.

Scrape down and cook at Varoma temperature / 4 minutes / Reverse / Speed 1 / MC off.

Add the 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp ground turmeric and cook again at 100C / 1 minute / Reverse / Speed 1 / MC off.

Add the stock (stock cubes don't need to be dissolved), chopped tomatoes, lemon juice (30g), rinse the 200g lentils under the tap and drain, and then add the lentils as well. Give a quick stir with your spatula before replacing the lid (no MC).

Put the Varoma unit (containing the chicken) on top of the lid and cook at Varoma temperature / 15 minutes / Reverse / Speed 1.5.

You're going to have to take the Varoma top tray and lid off the unit when the 15 minutes is up, so it's a good idea to put a plate which it will fit onto safely right next to the Thermomix. Meanwhile, make sure your green beans (or vegetables) are prepared and ready to go.

When the alarm goes, carefully remove the Varoma top tray and lid and put to one side while you quickly put the beans in the bottom of the Varoma unit. Make sure there are plenty of gaps between the beans for the steam to get to (in other words, don't line them all up - drop them in higgledy piggledy!) and replace the top tray and lid (if you're cooking six chicken breasts and can see that they're not cooking completely evenly, move them around at this point).

Cook again at Varoma temperature / 10 minutes / Reverse / Speed 1.5. Once the time is up, just check your chicken is cooked through, then set the whole Varoma unit to one side for a minute. Check you're happy with the lentils too (and see what the seasoning is like), then add the chopped coriander and parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and stir the herbs and seasoning in on Reverse / Speed 3 / 5 seconds. Taste again, and if you're happy, tip in the tomatoes and give a quick stir in with your spatula (to avoid breaking them up), and leave to warm through for a minute (if you like, you could slice the chicken breasts into 4 or 5 pieces on the diagonal at this point, to present them).

Ladle the lentil and tomato stew into warmed bowls, top with the green beans and chicken, and garnish with the reserved herbs. Enjoy!


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