Harissa Pomegranate Roasted Chicken with Avocado, Grapefruit & Mint Salad

Those of you that have been reading this blog for the last couple of years know that I tend to share vegan and/or gluten-free recipes, featuring organic, local and nutrient-dense “superfoods” as much as possible. While this is a healthy, earth-friendly and local-business bolstering approach to nourishment, it’s not necessarily affordable or realistic for large swaths of the population.

With that in mind, I am incredibly grateful that I am able to eat the way I do and am passionate about making healthy eating as universally doable as possible. For those who can afford organic and/or local ingredients and can supplement their diets with emerging superfoods (chia seeds, coconut oil, maca powder, etc), the work is in creating recipes that are easy to follow and still taste delicious after weaving in all those extra nutrients and swapping out empty ingredients. For the rest, who still want and ought to have strategies and guidance for feeding themselves and their families without having to sacrifice other basic needs, the job is admittedly a lot tougher. I’m currently working on food education and nutrition workshops for my new studio, Yoga Heights, that will tackle this tough task and will ultimately help me and YHDC co-owner, Jess Pierno, further our mission of offering yoga, pilates and nutrition to create balanced wellness for every body, at every level and every budget.

Two strategies I often suggest for people trying to eat healthy on a budget is to pay attention to the cuts of meat they purchase and to use spices to add bold flavors to basic meals. Apart from my decision and ability to use organic chicken instead of generic, this recipe fits the bill. Chicken thighs are a much more affordable cut than breast meat, especially when you buy them bone-in, skin-on—or better yet, get the whole chicken and butcher it yourself. For health purposes, I’d suggest you skip the skin except for special occasions. Harissa is a North African spice blend featuring a variety of flavors ranging from hot chile to caraway. I picked some up the last time I was in Ethiopia and love using it on meat and fish.

Harissa Sauce_MOARfit

While it takes some investment up front to stock your pantry with spices, oils and special ingredients, it pays off in the long run. Just think of all the ways I’ve already used pomegranate molasses!

This dish is great for a summer dinner party with friends. The cooling Avocado, Grapefruit and Mint salad is a nice complement to the spicy Harissa Pomegranate Roasted Chicken. It’s a feast for the senses—nose, eyes and mouth delight!

Harissa Chicken_MOARfit

Inspired by a recipe I saw in Women’s Health (May 2014). Unfortunately there’s no online link!

Harissa Pomegranate Roasted Chicken with Avocado, Grapefruit & Mint Salad

{makes 4 servings}

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 organic, bone-in chicken thighs (skinless)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbs pomegranate molasses
  • 1/3 cup harissa
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large grapefruits, sectioned
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1/2 cup gently chopped or torn mint leaves

How to Make It:

  1. Combine oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, harissa and salt & pepper in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Cover chicken in harissa-pomegranate sauce, cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (optimally overnight).
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  4. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Bake, covered, for 20-25 min. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 min before serving (seals all the yummy juices inside).
  5. When ready to serve, divide avocados, grapefruit and mint equally between 4 plates. Place one chicken thigh on top of each salad and drizzle with sauce run-off.

I hope you like this one as much as I did! It’s a little spicy, bold and bright. Mmm mmm.