Chicken Shawarma Grain Bowls
Chicken Shawarma Grain Bowls- Yogurt marinated chicken, fluffy quinoa, fresh veggies, and a hummus inspired tahini sauce pair together for a flavor bomb of a nutritious lunch or dinner.
May 17, 2022 by Nicole Collins
It is so difficult to articulate recipes in the age of diet culture.
There’s such a fine line between calling food healthy or clean and creating negative connotations about food that doesn’t fall into that pre-determined category.
I try to be really careful about how I say things or describe things when it comes to “healthier” meals. And, I’m sure I’m not getting it right 100% of the time.
Is it my job to determine what’s healthy for our bodies? Definitely not. I’m not a nutritionist, I’m just a home chef. Is all food healthy because it provides some kind of nourishment? I think so. Is broccoli healthier than potato chips? I guess it depends on who you ask and what their bodies need out of food.
I saw this story in passing the other day that was talking about the grain bowl craze. And, it was basically saying grain bowls are the modern day TV dinners. The quick blip I read said they both have a round up of ingredients deemed to be “healthy” in one place making it convenient to eat. My first thought was “I wouldn’t call TV dinners healthy”. But then I stopped myself and thought, who am I to say that? I grew up on TV dinners and even have blog recipes for homemade TV dinners.
I don’t know. I never want anyone to feel uncomfortable around here with anything we eat. As with anything in life, balance is key. So, I try to make sure I’m feeding us equal parts nutritious and indulgent food around here. But if I ever say anything that feels insensitive, tell me. And, please know it’s not intentional.
All that deep thinking for the morning is just my way of telling you that we’re making grain bowls today. So, let’s do the darn thing.
Today, we’re making Chicken Shawarma Grain Bowls!
These bowls are beaming with flavor in every direction. From the yogurt marinated chicken to the fluffy quinoa to the fresh veggies and the hummus inspired tahini sauce, there are a lot of super delicious things happening all in one spot. It’s both light and hearty at the same time, and those are my favorite kinds of meals.
Let’s start with the chicken. I chose chicken thighs for this recipe for a couple of reasons. For one, they’re actually pretty hard to overcook. Even if you take them beyond their required internal temperature, they’re pretty forgiving. They stay nice and juicy on the inside, and they come naturally with extra luscious flavor. I know dark meat poultry isn’t for everyone, so you could totally substitute breasts for this recipe. But the cook time will vary, so take note of that.
We’re going to make a super simple marinade of Greek yogurt, olive oil, and shawarma seasoning to schmear all over our chicken. Shawarma seasoning is pretty easy to find these days in stores or online, and it’s a middle eastern spice blend of warm spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, and paprika among other things. We’ll mix the marinade together, pour it over the chicken in a zip top bag, and let it hang in the fridge for a few hours to let all those delicious spices seep into the chicken.
After the chicken has had some time to do its thing, the rest of the bowl assembly goes pretty quickly. I like to broil the chicken because it cooks a little faster and we have the opportunity for crispy bits. But, grilling the chicken would be a fantastic option too, especially as the weather is warming. Then, we’re going to make some quinoa to use for the base of the bowl. We’ll chop some spinach, tomato, cucumber, and shallot or red onion to add some fresh veggie crunch to our bowl. And finally, we’re going to make a delicious sauce to dollop all over our finished bowl.
For the sauce, think hummus without the chickpeas. Because, that’s pretty much exactly what it is. We’re going to take some tahini, some lemon, some garlic, and some olive oil; and we’ll blend it all together. Then, we’ll add some water to help thin it out to the consistency we like. And, that’s our sauce!
To serve, we’re basically going to pile everything in a bowl, and stuff our faces. The chicken is warm and fragrant with those comforting spices dancing on our tongues. The tahini sauce is smooth and creamy adding a cooling element to the bowl. The veggies are crisp and refreshing adding pops of cool, crunchy texture. And, the warm quinoa on the bottom serves as the perfect pillowy bed to hold all of our delicious goodies.
There’s a reason this bowl has been on repeat at my house. Let me tell you!
Ok, everyone! I’m starting to play around with farro, so let me know what kind of grain bowl you want to see next using that!
Until then, enjoy! And, let’s eat!
Chicken Shawarma Grain Bowl
Serves: 4 Print
For the Grain Bowl:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ tsp + ¼ tsp salt, divided
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp shawarma seasoning
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
2 cups spinach, torn
2 mini cucumbers, sliced
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 shallot, sliced
flaky salt, for garnish
For the Tahini Sauce:
½ cup tahini
6 tbsp water
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove, smashed
¼ tsp salt
Marinate the chicken: Season chicken thighs on both sides with ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. To a small mixing bowl, add greek yogurt, 2 tbsp olive oil, and shawarma seasoning. Mix well to combine. Add chicken and yogurt sauce to a resealable bag. Massage the chicken in the marinade to fully coat the chicken. Place in the fridge, and allow the chicken to marinate for 4-8 hours.
Broil the chicken: Preheat broiler with top oven rack arranged 6 inches from the heating element. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove chicken from marinade, and gently shake off any excess. Arrange chicken in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Broil for 6-7 mins per side, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
Make the Quinoa: Add quinoa, 2 cups water, and ¼ tsp salt to a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 mins. Remove from heat, and allow to sit for 5 mins. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, make the Tahini Sauce: Add tahini, 6 tbsp water, lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and ¼ tsp salt to a small food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy.
Assemble the Grain Bowl: Divide quinoa evenly between two bowls. Top each bowl with spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, shallots, and chicken, evenly divided. Season veggies with a pinch of flaky salt. Top with a drizzle of tahini sauce. Serve!
*Rinsing the quinoa before cooking it helps to take away some of the bitterness that people can sometimes associate with quinoa.
*Shawarma seasoning is a Middle Eastern spice blend that's typically loaded with warm spices like cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, and more. It's pretty readily available both in stores and online.
*On warm weather days, this chicken would be great on the grill too.