A taste of the Mediterranean: Chicken with white beans

Chicken with white beans

Chicken with white beans

This recipe is not one I would ordinarily make, but now that I have, I would definitely do it again. It was easy to prepare and ready to serve in no time. I thought it was delicious.

It calls for a can of chopped green chilies, but I’m sure you could substitute with fresh and as hot or as mild as you prefer. I would also use fresh tomatoes next time — looking forward to a gardenful this summer!  And, I might like to try dry cannellini beans (aka white kidney beans) in place of canned.

What you need to know about beans

Many common beans, including kidney beans, contain a toxic compound known as a lectin. It’s especially concentrated in red kidneys  — white beans contain about one third as much as red. The toxin can be deactivated by boiling the beans for at least ten minutes, although the Food and Drug Administration recommends 30 minutes. You should also soak the beans overnight or at least five hours. Throw the water away after. Once you’ve boiled the beans, turn down the heat and simmer for 1 -2 hours until they’re tender. If you eat beans that weren’t boiled, you may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea one to three hours later. Most people feel better within a few hours. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them, just that you need to boil them first. A slow cooker won’t get hot enough. Canned beans should be fine.

What’s good about cannellini beans

  • Low in sodium
  • Low in sugar
  • Very high in dietary fiber

They’re especially tasty in a dish like Chicken and White beans, because as it simmers, they absorb the flavors of the other ingredients.

Chicken with white beans

1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 4.5-ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the chilies, beans, tomatoes and chicken and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bowl of couscous


What I didn’t know about couscous

I made couscous to go with the chicken and white beans. It looks like a grain, but it’s not. Who knew?  It’s a small pasta-like granule made from either refined wheat or whole wheat. Buy whole grain, so you get an extra boost of fiber. It was really easy to make.

  • Use 1 cup of water to 2/3 cup couscous
  • Pour water into a pot and bring to a boil
  • Add couscous and take pot off the heat
  • Let sit for about 10 minutes
  • Fluff with a fork and enjoy

Cucumber salad

Cucumbers on the side was a really nice complement. The herb vinaigrette didn’t take any time to make and there was plent left over for other salads or a marinade. One thing to remember though, is that salad dressing can add a lot of calories and fat, so you might want to use just a tablespoon instead of a cupful.

Cucumber salad with herb vinaigrette

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until well blended. Add 1 TBS fresh chopped thyme, tarragon, rosemary or whatever herbs you prefer.

So far, cooking Mediterranean style has been fairly easy and I haven’t had a meal yet that I didn’t like. All of the recipes in this post are courtesy of Oldways.

I would love to try some recipes from YOU. If you have one to share, you can either post it in the comment section below or contact me by email. Thank you!

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. Now, she's a baby boomer not interested in retiring. She writes the Catching Health blog and is a regular guest on the WCSH6/WLBZ2 Morning Report. She's also a college art student at USM. You can read about that adventure on Diane's other blog mylatestart.bangordailynews.com. She says it's good (and healthy) to be busy!