Couscous is loaded up with corn, black beans, and Mexican blend cheese and topped with salsa chicken tenders.
Do you watch Chopped on Food Network? In each episode, four competing chefs are challenged to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into a dish that is judged on creativity, presentation, and taste with minimal time to plan and execute. Sounds kind of like an average night in my kitchen to me.
On many nights as I stand, staring down the contents of my fridge, I feel like I’m in the midst of my own real life Chopped challenge. I do my best to plan and shop ahead but you know how that goes. There are always those nights where you need to get a little (or a lot!) creative with whatever you happen to have on hand and do it FAST.
I had some fun recently when Sargento® in conjunction with Food Network asked me to participate in a Chopped At Home Challenge. Just like the contestants on the show, I was presented with a basket of ingredients and asked to get creative and come up with my best Chopped-inspired dish.
What was in in my basket, you may ask? Drumroll please……
-Sargento Off the Block 4 Cheese Mexican
-Boneless chicken tenders
Obviously, it would be a Mexican-inspired dish. This is just totally in my wheelhouse. Bring it on!
The Off the Block 4 Cheese Mexican from Sargento is a blend of Monterey Jack, mild cheddar, queso quesadilla and asadero cheeses. It’s cut from blocks of 100% real, natural cheese and adds creamy, smooth flavor to all your Mexican-inspired dishes.
I immediately had a a vision of what I wanted to whip up for this challenge.
And, she’s off to the kitchen! Let’s take a look at what I came up with.
First off, I browned my boneless chicken tenders, one of my required ingredients, in a saute pan in vegetable oil over medium-high heat. I seasoned them with a little salt and fresh ground pepper as they cooked.
After they were nicely browned, I added about 1 cup of jarred salsa, and BAM…two ingredients down, two to go. I let the chicken tenders simmer with the salsa while I moved on to the couscous.
I diced up some red bell pepper, onion, and a jalapeno and sauteed the veggies with some minced garlic in a little vegetable oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. These vibrant veggies will add some gorgeous color to the finished dish.
To the softened veggies, I added 1-1/4 cups chicken broth and the couscous – 3 ingredients down – I’m on a roll!
If you’ve never cooked with couscous before, you’ll be surprised to see how quickly it comes together. It will absorb all that chicken broth pretty much as soon as it hits the pan. I added my seasonings – a little chili powder, cumin, and salt – and then removed the pan from the heat and placed the cover on.
After 5 minutes, I removed the cover and fluffed the couscous with a fork. Now, to add even more Mexican inspiration and make it even more delicioso…
… I added some frozen (thawed) corn and a can of black beans.
And, finally, the star of the show – the Sargento Off the Block 4 Cheese Mexican blend – my 4th and final required ingredient. I placed the pan back over low heat and simmered the mixture just until the cheese melted in to the couscous and the mixture was warmed through.
This is one gorgeous and very wholesome pan of Mexican-inspired couscous and it’s ready in under 15 minutes. You can’t beat that!
I plated it up (or bowled it up in this case) and placed a couple of salsa chicken tenderloins over the top. And, of course, I just had to add a dollop of sour cream to top it off.
Not to shabby, eh? A vibrant, delicious, wholesome meal for 4 in under 30 minutes.
Sargento wants to see how you mimic the Chopped challenge in your own kitchen. Use a select basket of ingredients to come up with your best Chopped-inspired dish featuring Sargento Shredded Cheese and enter the “Chopped at Home” contest for your chance to win $10,000! So, grab your apron, get creative, and have some fun cooking at home with the Chopped at Home Challenge!
Available in 30 versatile varieties, unique blends and distinct cuts, Sargento Shredded Cheese is always cut from blocks of 100% real, natural cheese. For more inspiration, check out the Sargento Pinterest page Pinterest.com/sargentocheese/ or visit Sargento.com for more information. The Chopped at Home Challenge gives viewers a chance to create their best recipe using the selected basket ingredients, including Sargento Shredded Cheese, for a chance to win $10,000!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sargento. The opinions and text are all mine.
Mexican Chicken Couscous Bowls
For the salsa chicken tenders:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 to 1-1/4 pounds boneless chicken tenders
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup salsa
For the Mexican couscous:
- 1/2 cup diced white or yellow onion
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 diced jalapeno seeded as desired
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1-1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup couscous
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained well
- 1/2 cup frozen corn thawed
- 1-1/2 cups Sargento Off the Block 4 Cheese Mexican
- Light sour cream
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken tenders and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then flip over and repeat with seasoning on the other side. Continue cooking for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until nicely browned. Pour salsa over the tenders, reduce heat to low, and simmer while you prepare the couscous.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add red bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover the skillet and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes or until broth is absorbed.
- Fluff couscous mixture with a fork. Stir in 1 can black beans, 1/2 cup thawed corn, and 1-1/2 cups cheese. Cover and return pan to low heat for 3 or 4 minutes, until warmed through and cheese has melted.
- Top individual servings of couscous with salsa chicken tenders. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro.