A beautiful roast chicken should be served with sides that compliment it and round out all the flavours. These sides are actually good enough to have by themselves.
K and I had the sumac and asparagus couscous with some spiced tempeh and tomato salad which was super tasty in that combo. But when the chicken juices, all lemon-thyme-pomegranate-buttery goodness soaks in it was heavenly.
Clearly the apple, fennel and pomegranate salad is similar to the pear, fennel and parmesan salad I love, but this is taken back a step to make it more of a side than a main. It would be awesome with pork chops too.
The cucumber and mint yoghurt sauce went really well on anything on the plate. Some added it to the salad, some to the couscous, some drizzled it over the chicken, but everyone liked it.
Sides for Roast Chicken
Sumac and Asparagus Couscous
2 cups of couscous
4 cups of water
1tbs of oil (lemon oil is nice)
2 pinches of salt
2tsp sumac, ground
2 bunches of asparagus
1/3 cup of pistachios
Apple, Fennel, Pomegranate and Rocket (Arugula) Salad
50g Rocket (Arugula)
1 large, tart apple such as a ‘Lady William’
1 fennel bulb
Arils of half a pomegranate (that’s the little bursty sacks around the seeds in a pomegranate)
Juice of half a lemon
A drizzle of oil
Cucumber and Mint Yoghurt Sauce
1 cup of either thick Greek yogurt or strain 1 ½ cups of plain yoghurt so it is thicker (see the Labneh recipe for how to strain yoghurt)
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved with seeds scraped out
About 25 mint leaves, finely sliced
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
You can pre-prepare the yoghurt sauce and the pre chop the salad, but I would recommend making the couscous while the chicken is resting so it is fresh and the couscous is nice and fluffy.
You want to remove the seeds and the super watery flesh they’re in so that your final sauce isn’t too runny. I just scraped them out with a teaspoon (and ate them – waste not want not).
Then finely dice the cucumber. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce adding olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
For the salad, slice the apple and fennel into elegant, long thin pieces. If you are preparing the salad components in advance, I would recommend submerging the apple and fennel slices in iced water that has the juice of half a lemon in it. This will keep them crispy, fresh and stop unsightly browning. When you are ready to serve, just layer the ingredients and then season with lemon juice and olive oil.
Grill the asparagus, if you can get it a little charred that’s all the better. Gently dry fry the pistachios.
Boil the water in a saucepan, season with the oil and salt then gently stir in the couscous. Continue stirring the couscous over a moderate to low heat until all the water is absorbed. Once the couscous is cooked, fluff it up with a fork as you stir through the sumac.
Place the sumac couscous in your serving dish, then sprinkle with pistachios and lattice the asparagus spears. Place the roasted chicken on top so that as it is carved the juices will be absorbed into the couscous.