When I think lemon chicken, I think one thing: bor-ing. And what it would take to create a souped-up lemon chicken always seemed more trouble than it was worth. On a weeknight, anyway. This recipe knocks both of those theories out with a one-two punch, yet the ingredients don’t come at your taste buds with fists blazing. The flavors are somehow both quiet and completely satisfying. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this.
And the vegetarian option, Garbanzo Bean Fritters, are seriously good. I originally tried the recipe with tofu instead of chicken, but that was a no-go. Big time. (Talk about boring.) But the fritters? Well, after trying one for lunch, I doubled the recipe and currently have eight waiting for me in my freezer right now. Yum, yum!
Oh, and there aren’t any veggies to speak of in this recipe, so I suggest serving with a simple side salad or throwing down a layer of spinach under the rice.
There are instructions for freezing below, but if you’re serving all four servings tonight, just skip the freezer prep steps.
Lemon Chicken (or Garbanzo Bean Fritters) with Flair
Four Servings, Prep and Freeze | Gluten-Free (chicken version), Vegetarian (fritter version)
Prep time: 25 min | Cook and serve time: 25 minutes
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breasts (vegetarian option: see fritter ingredients below)
2 medium yellow onions, cut into 6 wedges each
1 lemon, cut into 8 slices, seeds removed (omit if using vegetarian option)
2 cups uncooked rice
Black pepper, to taste
8 resealable freezer bags
Cooking twine (optional, for chicken version)
Vegetarian Garbanzo Bean Fritter ingredients:
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
4 cloves garlic, minced
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil on high heat. Add rice and reduce heat to low, cooking until all the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon each of cumin, paprika, and turmeric. (The remaining amounts of these ingredients will be used for marinade.) Once cooled, divide between four resealable bags, and lay flat in freezer.
- In a small bowl, mix together salt, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and olive oil. Set aside.
- Prepare onion.
- FOR CHICKEN: Prepare lemon slices. Place one chicken breast in each resealable bag. Add 1/4 of onion to each bag, two lemon slices, and 1/4 of marinade. Store in freezer. (NOTE: If you happen to be making this recipe from start to finish, rather than freezing it, be sure to marinate chicken for at least 4 hours.)
Optional prep step: Instead of step 4 above, wrap chicken around one lemon slice, place a second slice on top, then tie with cooking twine. (You may need to flatten the chicken with a tenderizing mallet in order to make it thin enough to wrap.) Place one chicken breast in each resealable bag. Add 1/4 of onion to each bag along with 1/4 of marinade. Store in freezer.
- FOR GARBANZO BEAN FRITTERS:
- In a medium bowl, mash garbanzo beans with a fork or pastry cutter until spoonfuls easily stick together. (You can use a food processor, but just pulse it—if the mixture gets too paste-like, patties will be difficult to handle.)
- Stir in garlic, egg, and breadcrumbs. Mold into 8, 2- x 1/2-inch patties.
- Place two patties in each resealable bag. Add 1/4 of onion to each bag and 1/4 of marinade. Store in freezer.
Cook and serve:
- Remove chicken breast/fritters and rice from freezer, refrigerate overnight to defrost and marinate.
- FOR CHICKEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken, lemon, and onions in a small baking dish and cook until no longer pink inside, 20 to 28 minutes. (If you used the wrapping method, cook time will be on the long end of that range.)
- FOR GARBANZO BEAN FRITTERS: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place fritters and onions in a small baking dish and cook for 20 minutes, flipping fritters over halfway though.
- To serve, place chicken/fritters on heated rice, and pour onions on top. (Discard lemons if making chicken.) Season with salt and pepper, to taste.