Saffron Chicken with Dried Apricots and Chickpeas

This warm and satisfying dish pays homage to slow-cooked North African tagines, but comes together in no time, combining sweet apricots with savoury and tender vegetables, legumes, and chicken. As with the black quinoa and lentil pilaf, the spices can be premixed at home if you’re heading out of town, making for efficient packing without sacrificing flavour. Using a fresh lemon (which doesn’t need to be refrigerated) also means you won’t need to lug a bottle of lemon juice along.

Feel free to add other vegetables such as sweet potato, squash, parsnips, turnip, or cauliflower, or swap in dried figs, dates, or prunes for apricots.
Any type of olives will work––e.g. green, purple, or black––and though you don’t need an entire jar for the recipe, you can serve the rest as an appetizer or snack.

You can use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained, and simmered in water until tender, or you can use canned, which saves time. Be sure to drain and rinse canned chickpeas thoroughly in water before using to significantly reduce the sodium content.

 

Ingredients

1 tsp (5 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, sliced in half lengthwise, or 1/2 tsp (2 mL) garlic powder (optional)

3 cups (750 mL) chopped carrots (about 3 large carrots)

3 cups (750 mL) chopped zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)

1/4 tsp (1 mL) saffron threads

1 cinnamon stick, or 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground cinnamon

1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin

1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cardamom

1 Tbsp (15 mL) paprika

1 Tbsp (15 mL) dried parsley

1 Tbsp (15 mL) dried chives (optional)

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

2 Tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped pitted olives (see Tip)

1 1/2 lbs (750 g) skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried apricot halves, diced

4 cups (1 L) chicken stock

2 – 14 oz (398 mL) cans chickpeas, drained, or 4 cups (1 L) cooked chickpeas (see Tip)

Freshly chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)

Directions

In large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add onion, garlic, carrots, and zucchini. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add spices, olives, chicken, lemon zest (not juice), dried apricots, and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until carrots and chicken are tender.

Add chickpeas and simmer for 5 minutes more. Stir in lemon juice and adjust salt to taste.

Serve with couscous or rice.

Each serving contains: 437 calories; 39 g protein; 7 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 55 g total carbohydrates (19 g sugars, 13 g fibre); 535 mg sodium

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