What To Serve With Chicken Marbella? [Plus Yummy Desserts & Wines]

Chicken Marbella is wonderful dish that was created by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, who owned the Silver Palate Gourmet Shop in New York City. In 1982, they decided to create the Silver Palate cookbook. The recipes were developed to make it easy for home cooks to easily create delicious meals for their families.

The cookbook revolved around French, Italian, Moroccan, Spanish and Mediterranean cuisines. Chicken Marbella was one of the recipes created for the cookbook which was influenced by many different cultures. 

Chicken Marbella is not from one particular region of the world. It has been heavily influenced by several different cuisines making it hard to pinpoint the actual origin of the dish. The recipe is very easy to make and which in turn does not take much skill at all. 

The dish is made by marinating chicken in oil, vinegar, herbs, olives, capers and prunes for an extended period of time. It is then placed in a large pot and braised in white wine and brown sugar until the meat is tender and succulent.

The flavors of the dish are tart, acidic, bright and slightly sweet which makes it a fan favorite for entertaining guests. 

Since Chicken Marbella is not classified as a particular cuisine, it can be hard to figure out what to serve alongside it. However, there are plenty of great sides and starches that will accompany the entrée perfectly. 

The dish is fairly versatile so it will work with just about any kind of starch. Potatoes will work the best to make the meal a complete and cohesive dish. Chicken Marbella is essentially a protein with a sauce so it really needs something else as well. A vessel of pastas or grains will work beautifully with the dish as well. 

If you want to stay on a healthier note then I suggest pairing the dish with some roasted or grilled vegetables. A side salad with a bright vinaigrette will complement the dish as a whole too. 

8 Best Starch/Non Starch Side Dishes To Serve With Chicken Marbella

1. Garlic And Herb Cappellini Pasta

Chicken Marbella has bright and acidic flavors with a mild sweetness from the sugar and prunes. So, if you are wanting to choose a pasta to accompany the dish, I recommend using capellini or something similar. The capellini pasta is smaller and lighter so it will not overtake the whole meal or fill you up too much. 

You could just serve the pasta dry with no additional ingredients or sauce and just use the sauce from the Chicken Marbella. But if you wanted to make the capellini a side dish then try to go with something similar in flavor. Tossing the pasta with a little olive oil, fresh herbs, roasted garlic and diced tomatoes will be a great addition to the meal without being to over bearing. 

2. Mashed Potatoes

Since the dish cries out for a starch to accompany it, mashed potatoes will do the trick perfectly! You don’t need to get too crazy with the potatoes, just keep it simple with some butter, milk, salt and pepper. You could add some mild parmesan cheese to the mashed potatoes too, but it really doesn’t need any. 

The mashed potatoes will work as a vessel for the chicken and will hold up nicely to the sauce. As long as the potatoes are kept simple, the flavors shouldn’t clash and you will be left with a great entrée for the table.

3. Wild Rice

If you are not big on potatoes, then I suggest you try going with a wild rice medley or a rice pilaf. Follow the same rules with the rice as you would with mashed potatoes and you should be fine. Just keep the flavors of the wild rice simple and subtle. If you add too many other ingredients to the rice, you may end up with a dish that just doesn’t work well. Ingredients to think about using could be roasted garlic, herbs and simple spices. 

4. Potatoes Au Gratin

This side dish will work nicely with Chicken Marbella as well. There are several different variations to choose from depending on your preference. However, just go with a simple au gratin potato dish. You can add some mild cheddar cheese to the au gratin but don’t go to heavy.

The best course of action is to just use heavy cream and butter when making the potato gratin. Even though it doesn’t work as a vessel for the chicken and sauce, it does pair easily without clashing on flavors. 

5. Grilled Squash And Asparagus

Starches are great for Chicken Marbella but so are vegetables especially if you don’t want to eat a very heavy meal. Squash and asparagus work nicely with the dish since they are already used in the same region of cuisines used to create the dish. 


Grilling the squash and asparagus with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper will be one of the best ways to go with. However, if you wanted to go on a healthier route, then I suggest steaming the vegetables.

6. Garlic Parmesan Cous Cous

Another great starch to consider is cous cous. This side item is used in many Mediterranean and north African cuisines so it will work nicely with the Chicken Marbella as well. Cook the cous cous with a little bit of garlic and possibly some herbs.

Once it has been cooked, shave some parmesan cheese into the cous cous with a little salt and pepper and possibly some lemon zest. The side dish will work well with the entrée act as a great vessel to soak up all the marvelous pan sauce from the chicken. 

7. Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Another great vegetable option to try is Brussel sprouts. They are very similar to cabbage which would also work as a side dish. You will need to quarter or halve them, depending on their size before cooking them. Tosse the Brussel sprouts with some oil, salt and pepper and lay them flat on a sheet pan to be baked in the oven.

They should take more than fifteen or twenty minutes in the oven on a high temperature and will be slightly charred on the edges. The Brussel sprouts will accompany the Chicken Marbella nicely and soak up some of the sauce as well in between the vegetable’s layers. 

8. Roasted Sweet Potatoes

There is another version of Chicken Marbella which is called “Ottolenghi Style”. It is another variation of the recipe that uses most of the same ingredients but also with the addition of roasted sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes are actually one of the better starches to try using as a side dish and they can be somewhat healthier as well. 

To prepare the sweet potatoes, cut them in to small 1-2-inch pieces and toss them in some vegetable oil with salt and pepper. Place them on a sheet pan and bake in the oven at high heat for about 30 minutes.

The sweet potatoes should be fully cooked, tender and slightly golden brown when they are done. They complement the Chicken Marbella wonderfully and will actually complete the dish. 

Delicious Salads Served With Chicken Marbella

If you can’t figure out what type of salad to choose when serving Chicken Marbella, try to think of the regions of the world it was inspired by. Chicken Marbella is heavily influenced by French, Italian and Mediterranean flavors, so a salad from those cuisines will work the best. 

A Greek salad with some cucumbers, red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese and a red wine vinaigrette would be my first choice. If you wanted some Italian influence then a nice Caesar salad or house salad with Italian dressing would also work. You could also just go with a nice garden salad of fresh vegetables and your favorite dressing as well.

Just try to stay away from rich and creamy dressings like ranch, thousand island or blue cheese dressing. The flavors of these dressings will clash too much with the entrée. 

Wines That Pair Best With Chicken Marbella

If you are trying to pair a wine with your Chicken Marbella, there is a always a good rule of thumb to follow. When pairing wine with chicken, always go with a white wine just to be sure. There are some red wine alternatives to choose from but the selection is much less than if you chose a white. 

Since Chicken Marbella will be slightly acidic and sweet, you will want to go with a dry white wine to complement the flavors of the dish. Chardonnay is always one of the best choices to go with in terms of a dry white wine.

white wine

You could also go with a Sauvignon Blanc as well. The region the wine is from will not matter as much but just to be sure, go with a French white wine.

What Desserts Should Be Served With Chicken Marbella?

Choosing a dessert should be fairly easy if you are trying to complement the Chicken Marbella. You want to end the meal on a good note and keep some of the same flavors in the dessert that were in the entrée.

Try to go with fruity flavors or slightly acidic flavors in your dessert to keep it safe. If you want to contrast the meal with the dessert, then go with rich and dark flavors such chocolate. 

Some choices of desserts to complement the meal are going to be light and fruity. A strawberry shortcake or a fruit parfait with berries and cream will be the perfect endnote to the meal.

Or you could also serve a fruit and cheese plate for the table with some truffle honey, marinated cherries and crostini as well. 

chocolate cake

If you wanted to contrast the meal, chocolate is going to be your best friend. Literally, any chocolate dessert will work the best but the richer and darker, the better. A chocolate lava cake with dark cherries would work nicely. Or a flourless chocolate torte with fresh whipped cream and berries would also do the trick.

Final Verdict

Chicken Marbella has been around for a good forty years, but if you have never read the cookbook it came from, chances are you never had it. If you have never had it, I implore you to find the recipe online and try it out. It really is a simple dish to create and an even better dish to eat with friends and family. As long as you keep the flavors of your side dish simple, then there should be no worries on your end!

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