Roasted Chicken with Moroccan Spiced Quinoa
May 14, 2021
By Elizabeth Palmer Califano

This one-pot meal is like a warming hug; comforting and satiating while still remaining light and healthy. Fragrant Moroccan-influenced spices add depth to simple roasted chicken and grains, while traditional dates bring sweetness, and lemon and fresh herbs bring brightness. Rather than cook these separately, this recipe utilizes the broth and aromatics used to roast the chicken to cook the grains, infusing both with so much flavor you’ll never want to cook them separately again! Chicken contains high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is linked with mood and known as a calming and feel-good neurotransmitter. Chicken also contains vitamin B12 and choline, two nutrients key in brain development in children and cognitive performance in adults.

Total Time: 2 hours

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ½ pound whole chicken
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into ½ inch disks
  • 2 medium leeks, light green and white parts, cut into ½ inch disks
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup dried dates, chopped
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 ¾ cups dried quinoa
  • Chopped scallions, fennel fronds, parsley or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

roast chicken with moroccan spices


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large Dutch oven with a lid, heat the olive oil over high heat on your stovetop.
  2. Add the chicken, breast side down, and sear for 5-7 minutes, until it’s golden brown and releases easily from the pot. Season lightly with salt before flipping the chicken to breast side up, then season the breast side with salt as well.
  3. Add the carrots, leeks, garlic, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest to the pot around the chicken. Pour over the broth, adding water if needed, to cover 2/3 of the chicken legs. Stir everything gently, then bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Once at a boil, cover the pot and put it in the oven for 1 hour. After the hour, take the pot out of the oven and stir in the dates, chickpeas and quinoa. Put the lid back on, and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes, to ensure the quinoa absorbs all the liquid.
  5. Garnish with fresh herbs and lemon wedges, and enjoy!

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About the Author

Elizabeth Palmer Califano
Elizabeth is a graduate of Hamilton College and The French Culinary Institute, as well as an avid world traveler and dinner party hostess. For more information, visit her website: