Cape Town has the most amazing running trails. Every Sunday, we head out in the afternoon to run in the wonderland that is the Western Cape. On this particular Sunday, we drove along the M3 to Newlands Forest, which made me feel as though I was in some kind of cartoon. The greens are florescent, the bees are huge, and looking up at the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, the blue sky is majestic. The 10km trail we found brought us up through the pines flanked by indigenous fynbos and purple flowers to waterfalls and streams high above the city. It really is a runner’s paradise.
After a long run, it feels good to eat something home-cooked and healthy, with lots of protein. So I made a lunch of sesame coated chicken breasts on a bed of cinnamon-scented millet, dressed up in roasted eggplant, zucchini and fresh herbs. The crunchiness of the toasted almonds combined with the creamy textures of the avocado and hummus makes this Eastern-inspired dish really delicious.
Middle Eastern Millet & Sesame Chicken
¾ cup of millet
1 ½ cups water
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
400g free-range chicken breasts, sliced into strips
4 baby zucchinis
½ cup cherry tomatoes
a large handful of wild rocket
handful of basil, chopped
handful of coriander, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
¼ cup almonds, toasted
4 Tbsp hummus*
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp ground coriander
lemon zest & juice
*I bought hummus with Za’atar (a mix of herbs) from Sababa, a great little Middle Eastern deli in Sea Point, which was fantastic, but you could always make your own ahead of time. The hummus could also easily be substituted with Greek yogurt.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, toast the dry millet until it starts to brown and smell nutty. Add the water, salt and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 mins.
In the meantime, toast the almonds in a frying pan and then set aside. Slice the eggplants and zucchinis and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and place under the grill for about 3 minutes on each side.
Once the millet is done, fluff with a fork and stir in the herbs, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and some olive oil. Set aside and keep covered.
Over medium-high heat, add a little olive oil in a pan and add the chicken strips. Toss them with the sesame seeds, ground coriander, and some salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until golden brown (about 7 mins).
To serve, place millet in the bottom of each bowl, add the chicken, and arrange the roasted slices of eggplant, zucchini, avocado, and almonds around the bowl. Top with a spoonful of hummus and a sprig of basil.