Recipe: Trader Joe’s Chicken Schawarma Thighs

On a busy week-night, I want food fast, easy and with as little fuss as possible.  Trader Joe’s chicken schawarma thighs fill the bill nicely. Schawarma is essentially an olive oil marinade with the essential ingredients of turmeric, onion, paprika and garlic, with some lemon and vinegar for acidity. Trader Joe’s version is not quite as delicious as, say, this NYT recipe, but for something I can throw in the oven for half an hour at 400 degrees F? Hey, this is my go-to meal for tired days. My picky son loves it (though he won’t eat the mushrooms).

Turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory root with a delicate flavor.  Trader Joe’s almond butter and turmeric salad dressing reminds me slightly of Thai peanut sauce — but without the overpowering sweetness. I added it to this recipe to give it a creamy finish.

I pair this with Trader Joe’s reduced carb tortillas, two colors of peppers, onions and mushrooms– and baby spinach — and I have a fast meal that is almost restaurant quality. It’s kind of like a soft taco or a loose “wrap.”   To be honest, my son is no fan of vegetables (especially not mushrooms).  I often make the garnish just for myself, halving the amount of peppers, onion and mushrooms in the recipe below if it’s just him and me.

This recipe makes about five “tacos.”

What You Need:

The Chicken:
1 package of Trader Joe’s chicken schawarma thighs
1 lemon, cut in halves (optional)

The Garnish:
1 red bell pepper
1 orange pepper
1/2 onion
2-4 fresh white mushrooms (optional)
1 pat of butter
2 tablespoons of oil oil
1/4 tsp turmeric (or a good sprinkle)
1/4 tsp paprika (or a good sprinkle)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup (or a good handful) of baby spinach

Trader Joe’s Reduced Carb Tortillas
a spray can of coconut oil  (optional) — You can substitute spray olive oil or other oil as well.

Salad dressing (optional) – My personal preferences are Trader Joe’s “Almond Butter Turmeric” salad dressing or “Gorgonzola Pear Champagne Vinagrette”

The Prep

  1. First I preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. , then I start prepping the ingredients. This isn’t entirely throw the meat in the oven and forget it!

2. I remove the chicken from the package and cut the thighs into similarly sized, smaller pieces.   They come packaged together, with about three large thighs and a couple of smaller thigh pieces.  I cut each large thigh into about four pieces.  The smaller pieces can usually be cut into half and then they’re all mostly the same size — so they will cook in around the same time.

3. I put aluminum foil on a broiler pan and set the pieces on the foil.  I often squeeze half a lemon over all the pieces, to wake up the flavor, before putting it in the oven when the temperature hits the mark.   The thigh pieces will cook in about thirty minutes.

The Garnish

4. While the chicken’s in the oven, put the pat of butter in a saute pan, along with the olive oil. Turn on medium heat, letting the butter melt. Add paprika and turmeric to the oil while its heating.

5. Chop the onion into a small dice (small pieces) and mince the garlic.  Add to the pan. Cook on medium heat and let those onions brown.

6. Chop the red and orange pepper, (and the  mushrooms if using).  Add to the pan.

7. Saute the peppers and mushrooms with the onions and garlic in the oil/butter/spice mixture over medium heat for about five minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.

8. Add the baby spinach. Cook til it just wilts–that takes less than a minute!   Take the saute pan off the heat and set it aside. I keep the garnish in the pan while I work on the tortillas.

Prepare the Tortillas

9. I use a grill pan or a skillet, heating it up to a medium high temperature.

10.  I spray each tortilla on each side with coconut oil and put them on the hot grill pan, about a minute on each side. They should get a nice hot scorch mark on them, but not much!   Set aside.

11. When the chicken comes out, assemble them like tacos:  a spoonful of garnish, three to four pieces of chicken per “taco.”

12. I add a small squeeze of lemon or often, a small spoonful (or “dollop” ) of salad dressing before eating. My favorites are Trader Joe’s pear gorgonzola salad dressing or the the especially lovely almond butter turmeric salad dressing.

The Salad Version

If you’re not a fan of the tortilla idea, you can put all of this on top of fresh greens for a wonderful salad.  I do this with leftovers of this recipe — if there are any (often not!). That takes off a few net carbs.

The Nutritional Info:

Trader Joe’s Chicken Schawarma (from the package):

Serving size 4 oz (112g) | Amount per serving: Calories 160
Total Fat 7g (9% DV), Saturated Fat 1.5g (8% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 100mg (33% DV), Sodium 440mg (19% DV), Total Carbohydrate 3g (1% DV), Dietary Fiber 0g (0% DV), Total Sugars 0g—Includes 0g Added Sugars (0% DV), Protein 21g, Vitamin D 0mcg (0% DV), Calcium 20mg (0% DV), Iron 1.2mg (6% DV), Potassium 290mg (6% DV).

The Trader Joe’s Reduced Carb Tortillas
Serving: 1 tortilla | Calories: 10 | Total Fat: 1.5g | Total Carbs: 10g (7g fiber, 0g sugar) | Protein: 4g

<Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Turmeric Dressing (serving 1 tbsp).

Yes, it has a little cane sugar in it (it’s the fifth ingredient) but the rest of the ingredients are pretty good for you– almond butter, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and lemon juice — 4g of fat, carbohydrates, 4g, fiber 1g,  2g of sugar and 2g of protein in a tablespoon.

Here’s my admittedly rough calculations for my two tacos:
Chicken: 6 g net carbs
Tortillas: 6 g net carbs
Salad dressing: 6 net carbs
Peppers:  about 2.5 g carbs
Onions: about 2 g net carbs
Spinach: 2 g net carbs
Mushrooms: 1 g net carbs

This gives me a total carb accounting for this meal at 25.5 net carbs.

 

 

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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