What better way to end the day than with a dish that nourishes the body and calms the mind for a good night’s rest?
I absolutely love this recipe… not only is it delicious and healthy, it stars a beautiful blend of ingredients known for their sleep-supporting properties.
The chicken thighs are loaded with tryptophan to help our bodies produce melatonin that calms the brain and aids sleep*. Basmati rice, a rich source of carbohydrates, assists in the brain’s absorption of tryptophan. Even the Medjool dates have a role to play: rich in the ‘relaxation’ mineral magnesium, they help to support quality sleep and reduce inflammation!
The best part? It only takes 10 minutes to prepare. Sweet dreams are made of these, indeed!
- 500g chicken thighs
- 2 tsp Ras el hanout, or Moroccan spice mix
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ red onion, diced
- ½ bunch parsley, leaves & stems finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted & chopped
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ lemon, sliced
- 10 green olives, pitted
- 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 100g feta, crumbled
Place the chicken thighs in a bowl and season with the Ras el hanout and a generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a large lidded pan over a medium high heat. Sear the chicken thighs on each side for 2 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and sauté the garlic, red onion and parsley stems for 4 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the tomato paste, basmati rice, Medjool dates and chicken stock to the pan. Stir until the ingredients are combined.
Add the chicken thighs back to the pan with the lemon slices. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Don’t remove the lid. Allowing the rice to rest will ensure it is properly cooked.
Remove the lid and fluff the rice. Top with sliced green olives, chopped parsley leaves, pine nuts and crumbled feta. Garnish with a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Time to cook: 40
Note: if you have time, marinate the chicken with the spices and leave to sit in the fridge for an hour or two before cooking to maximise the flavour.
Costello, R.B., Lentino, C.V., Boyd, C.C., O’Connell, M.L., Crawford, C.C., Sprengel, M.L. and Deuster, P.A. (2014). The effectiveness of melatonin for promoting healthy sleep: a rapid evidence assessment of the literature. Nutrition Journal, [online] 13(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-106.