What to Serve with Chicken Marbella: Side Dishes to Help You Get Your 80s On
Salty, sweet, succulent, and satisfying – chicken Marbella truly has it all.
The complex combination of flavors – capers, prunes, olives, garlic, red wine vinegar, and white wine – all unite around tender and juicy chicken pieces, making for a harmonious and stimulating whole.
Complexity is definitely a touchstone with chicken Marbella, but it’s a complexity that brings with it a bit of comfort and the air of the Mediterranean.
Originally served up at the Silver Palate a small eatery in Manhattan, the recipe was first published in the Silver Palate cookbook in the 1980s.
It soon spread far and wide and became a staple for both dinner parties and lunches.
Sure, maybe it’s a titch retro – but it’s a fantastic and delicious kind of retro that remains hip more than 30 years after it burst onto the food scene.
As beautiful in the roasting pan as it is tasty on the plate, chicken Marbella has deservedly remained popular over the decades since.
Because it can open up a lot of possibilities, the multiplicity of flavors can also help choosing what to serve with chicken Marbella.
At the same time, the complex combination of flavors and heartiness of the dish does present some challenges, because you don’t want to over complicate things too busy a side dish.
But that doesn’t mean your choices have to be all one note.
Simple, hearty and savory flavors like a mash or roasted veggies can be a great pairing, but so can light, bright, and refreshing salads.
The possibilities are varied and fun – a virtual culinary playground – so don’t be afraid to have fun.
Chicken Marbella Sides: I Pity the Dish That’s Not on This List
So, flip up that collar, wear some sunglasses at night, and turn up some inspiring music for one of those 80s “getting stuff done” movie montages. Because we’re making chicken Marbella and it’s time to whip up some incredible side dishes.
Fluffy, fluffy couscous is the consummate side dish to sop up all the amazing sauce in the chicken Marbella.
Each grain brings a delicate and savory note to the dish to round it out perfectly.
When you throw together your couscous, remember it’s a little flavor sponge, so throw all the good stuff you can at it.
Salted broth. (Yes, we went there.)
And don’t forget the fat! Couscous loves a little pat of butter and some olive oil.
2. German Potato Salad
Warm potatoes, bacon, and a tangy dressing all pair amazingly well with chicken Marbella.
Oh, yes. There’s just something about the puckery, smoky, and apple cider vinegar-forward flavors of the salad that melds perfectly with its sweet and savory plate-mate.
Make sure to grab the prettiest-looking gourmet potatoes you can find, because they’re going to be sitting on the table with a gorgeous meal, and we want them to be as stunning as the main dish.
We really like Samantha’s recipe at Five Heart Home, check it out. We think you’ll dig it too.
3. Creamy Mashed Potatoes
The way that the chicken Marbella gets scooped on the fork with a bit of creamy mashed potatoes is as compelling and inspiring as Helen of Troy launching a thousand ships.
Yes, the combination is just that stunning.
Whether the potatoes are mashed with cream cheese, heavy cream, ghee, loads of milk, regular unsalted butter, or herbs is nearly beside the point.
The combination of seasoned potatoes and dairy mashed into pure perfection is an astoundingly good side dish.
4. Spinach Salad with Bacon
This is a great salad to serve with chicken Marbella. The brininess of the capers in the sauce ties together the smoky bacon and earthy mushrooms in the classic steakhouse salad.
Now, we love the classic spinach salad – but we’re not purists. Some tangy pomegranates would be amazing with the salad and would play nicely with the sweet figs in the Marbella sauce.
And let’s not forget to toss in some nuts and seeds to the salad, because the crunchy texture adds another layer of complexity to the entire meal.
So, put your thinking cap on when you throw that spinach into a bowl. You have a lot of choices to play with.
5. Asparagus Risotto
Creamy and rich risotto complements chicken Marbella in an amazing way.
When the risotto gets kissed by the sweet and savory sauce, the side dish and the main dish are both elevated into a new realm of deliciousness.
And then the asparagus comes into play. Oh, yeah.
Bright green and fresh asparagus plays off the richness in the risotto by providing a toothsome bite that refreshes the palate.
And it adores the brininess of the capers of olives.
Oh, yes. Asparagus risotto is a wonderful compliment to the Marbella.
6. Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms
Embrace the 1980s roots of chicken Marbella by serving it with one of the most beloved side dishes of the decade.
Sausage-stuffed mushrooms loaded with herbs and a hint of salty parmesan are just the ticket for a fun and flavorful side dish.
The earthy mushrooms and flavorful sausage reach across the plate to form a friendship with the red wine vinegar sauce.
Don’t ask, “Where’s the beef?”
Ask, “Where’s the sausage-stuffed mushrooms?”
7. Rustic Crusty Bread
When it comes to chicken Marbella, “crusty bread” doesn’t just jump into the mind – it walks in, jumps on a table and does a dance, singing ♪”…you know you want to dip it in the saaaauuuuccceee!” ♪
Because the sauce is so good that you want to sop up every morsel of it. Don’t be ashamed, really get into the edges of the bowl to scoop up every infinitesimal amount of the bright, sweet, and savory sauce.
The bread can be sourdough, white, wheat, or multi-grain – but you know you want to have it on the table.
8. Bacon Ricotta Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Salty and smoky bacon combine with light ricotta cheese and rustic potatoes to create a side dish that will leave chicken Marbella patting the side of the plate and saying, “Come sit next to me.”
Because the potatoes are so hearty, they really work with the light and briny flavors of the Marbella sauce.
We really like Sandi’s recipe over at Fearless Dining. Grab the link here for all of the delicious goodness.
9. Fried Polenta
Whisk polenta with water and milk. Make it good n’ smooth. Refrigerate it.
Cut it into squares or rounds. Fry them in butter.
And then – oh, the crowning glory – top it with sautéed peppery watercress or arugula, or even broccolini.
You can’t resist this side dish.
(I bet we had you at “fry them in butter,” didn’t we?)
And your chicken Marbella can’t resist this side dish.
The flavors marry perfectly with the chicken and dried fruit and capers and olives.
There’s no doubt about this – you want to get that polenta whisked for the beginning of a gorgeous midweek side dish.
10. Sautéed Garlicy Swiss Chard
Rainbow Swiss chard is one of the most beautiful vegetables in the produce aisle.
The color of the greens burst forth with fuchsia, yellow, and bright white leaves and stalks.
Now thinly chop those stalks and sauté them in oil. Then chiffonade the leaves and get them into the pan with a bit of garlic.
Move everything around in the pan, and then stand back and feel proud to be you.
Congratulations! You’ve made an amazingly delicious and rustic side dish that’s one of our favorite answers to the question of what to serve with chicken Marbella.
Here’s a little tutorial from Dani.
11. Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms and Nuts
We love a good rice pilaf that’s loaded with nuts, mushrooms, and veggies – and truckloads of flavor.
And did we mention we love a lot of herbs too?
Yeah, we want those too.
And it definitely helps to have a kiss of boozy white wine to bring the right amount of acidity to the dish.
The crunchy nuts and earthy mushrooms really pair incredibly well with the olives and figs.
We really like this recipe from Alissa at Connoisseurus Veg.
12. Asparagus with a Lemon Vinaigrette
Perfectly roasted asparagus is a joy to behold.
We mean, just behold it. It’s stunningly green.
It’s the perfect nexus where “crisp” and “tender” meet.
It’s straight-up addictive.
And when it’s tossed in a bright lemon vinaigrette, it’s one of our favorite chicken Marbella sides. The lemon sings along with the olives and capers to create a crescendo of flavor on the plate.
Anna at Garnish with Lemon has the recipe that your chicken Marbella is craving.
13. Cucumber Salad with a Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette
A light and spicy cucumber and tomato salad is welcome as a side dish for nearly any and every main dish.
And it makes you hum a little bit when you bite into it.
And when tomatoes work double time in both the body of the salad and in the vinaigrette itself – well – you know you’re onto something good – and perfect to serve with chicken Marbella.
A startlingly colorful main dish filled with sweet and savory flavors, side-by-side with a fresh and vibrant side?
Sign. Us. Up.
Mary at Barefeet In the Kitchen has a great recipe.
What to Serve with Chicken Marbella: Wines, and Salads, and More Wines, Oh My
So, there you have a pretty varied list of side dish ideas. But there are still plenty of ideas that can help take your chicken Marbella meal to a whole new level.
In part because there are so many flavors going on in this dish, deciding what wine to serve with chicken Marbella can feel a little tricky, though.
There’s the deep fruitiness of the prunes, slightly caramelized savory herbaceousness of the chicken, and the salty pucker of the capers and olives.
So many contrasts. So many flavors.
The complexity and layers of flavors are a big part of what make chicken Marbella so enticing, but it also makes choosing just the right wine a little less straightforward than it is for some other meals.
Initially, your instinct might be to turn to white wines. And this makes sense because whites are a traditional combination with chicken and, indeed, white wine is among the ingredients in the dish itself.
And some whites can work wonders. The complex marriage of rich sweetness and salty savoriness suggests something with relatively high acid to cut through.
A light-bodied, high-acid white, such as a Spanish Albarino or an aromatic and herbaceous sauvignon blanc can work really well.
You might even go for a dry or off-dry German Riesling to play off the sweet and salty elements.
Those same complex amalgamations of briny and sweet in the Marbella can also play beautifully with other fruity wines, especially with subtle tannins and assertive acidity – leading to a number of potentially great red wine pairings.
For example, a fruity Malbec or zinfandel could work nicely.
Other lighter-bodied reds can play off the herbs, capers, plums, and garlic really well too. Think a fruity grenache, a gentle Beaujolais, a sangiovese, or a domestic temperanillo.
These are all just starting points, of course, so don’t be afraid to experiment and search for your own perfect combination.
Lighten Up – Salad Fixes Everything
Being as hearty and rich as it is, chicken Marbella practically begs for the lighter textures and vegetal earthiness of a good salad.
We’ve already talked about a few good salad choices in our list above, but whether you’re serving it as a separate course or beside the main dish, salads are always worth further exploration in our book, especially with the richness of a dish like this.
For instance, an arugula salad with walnuts or pecans and a lemony vinaigrette would be a good bet.
The dressing along with the peppery, slightly bitter brightness of the arugula make a nice contrast against the rich sweetness, while the nuts will cozy the palate up to the savory, meatiness of the main dish.
Along similar lines, a simple mix of spring greens topped with blanched green beans, broccoli, or broccolini – or a medley of them – and shallots with a red wine dressing would both play off some notes in the main dish and add some wanted refreshing bites.
Some self-proclaimed foodies will probably tell you that kale’s moment has passed, but we couldn’t disagree more.
Don’t let “hot takes” on Twitter and food blogs fool you, kale is just as delicious, healthy, and culinarily useful as ever. And a simple massaged kale salad – with it’s bright acidity and hearty earthiness is just the right thing to serve up with chicken Marbella.
On the other end of the spectrum, but equally perfect with a rich Marbella, would be a light, slightly herby cucumber salad with a rice wine vinaigrette brings a lightness and freshness that cleanses the palate – and leaves it begging for more.
So, just like the classic 1980s dish itself, there’s no reason the question of what to serve with chicken Marbella needs to lead to one-note answers.
Your chicken Marbella sides, salads, and wines can be just as interesting, complex, and fun as the main dish itself.
- Chicken Piccata sides: Another famous chicken dish that uses capers!
- Chicken Cacciatore sides: Another chicken entree bursting with a variety of flavors.
- Jerk Chicken sides: Take a walk on the wild side…but still chicken!