1 Dish, 2 Spoons: Couscous

25 Nov

Tess’ sister, Kim, emailed us this week requesting some recipe ideas for couscous; we agreed that this was the perfect ingredient for this week’s 1D2S.  Couscous is insanely fast to cook (boil water, add couscous, cover pot and let sit for 5 minutes), cheap to buy (especially if you get it from the bulk bin), and is very versatile (as you’ll see from this post!).  So Kim, we hope you enjoy these and find inspiration in them 🙂

Tess’ Take

So I have this Acorn Squash….  I bought it last week during a wild night of vegetable shopping (seriously y’all, it was out of control) and since it’s one of the slowest vegetables to go bad, it’s been sitting on our counter ever since.  When my sister suggested couscous for a recipe, my mind immediately went to my rotting idling squash and thought: Stuffed Acorn Squash!  Now, I’m not as creative as Jess is when it comes to cooking, so I looked up a recipe on-line.  Here’s what I decided on:

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalks celery*, chopped (*I didn’t have celery, so used asparagus instead)
  • 1 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 7 oz can chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Step 1) Cut your squash in half, scoop out seeds, place on a baking sheet (cut side down) and bake for 30 mins at 350 (F)

I'm saving my seeds so I can bake them later 🙂

Step 2) Heat the oil over medium heat, then add carrots, celery/asparagus, and garlic.  Cook 5 minutes.

Step 3) Stir in the beans, raisins, s&p, and cumin.  Continue cooking until veggies are tender.

Step 4) Once squash is cooked (fork tender), dissolve the sugar in the butter and brush over the cut sides of the squash.  If your couscous is still going to take a while, you can then turn off the heat on the stove and put the squash back in to keep it warm.

I like to poke holes in my squash to get the butter all the way through the "meat" 🙂

Step 5) Add in couscous and stir until completely integrated.  Pour in vegetable stock.  Cover pot, and remove from heat.  Let sit 5 minutes.

Step 6) Spoon couscous mixture into squash and enjoy!

Both John and I liked this recipe (we ate it for dinner along with a piece of baked chicken breast) and thought it was pretty good.  BUT…… I didn’t realize until just now, as I re-typed the ingredients, that I forgot to add the cumin when I made this!!!  GAH!  That’s such a key ingredient!  So, the only thing to do is to make it again 😛

Jess’s Take:

When Tess told me she received an email from her sister asking for couscous recipes I became immediately excited for two reasons:

1)      Someone is asking us for recipe suggestions, and

2)      I rarely cook with couscous so I’m always up for a challenge

Being a runner, a vegetarian, and an unapologetic carb-whore, many of my meals (if not all) will usually involve a carbohydrate of some kind but rarely will I turn to couscous.  Well, after tonight’s experiment I think I’m a convert!

Couscous is made from semolina that has been formed into tiny little balls and hails from the north-African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.  Commercially dried couscous (the most common variety available) is very easy to prepare and it cooks similarly to grains such as rice and quinoa. Just remember to add 1 ½ times the amount of liquid to couscous instead of a 1 to 2 grain to liquid ratio.

With a subtle nutty flavour, couscous is most commonly associated with the popular Middle-Eastern dish: Tabbouleh which incorporates mint, parsley, and lemon juice.  While I could have gone down the route of creating a Tabbouleh inspired dish for you all, I wanted to explore some different yet still delicious flavours that North-African style cooking has to offer.

Dried fruit is a common ingredient in many North African dishes

This couscous dish, while simple in preparation, packs in the flavour with hints of cardamom, ginger, and cumin that makes it the perfect companion to a rich Vegetable Tagine (hint, hint, for next week). Overall, I really loved the simplicity of this recipe complimented by the rich colours and sweet/smoky flavours; it’s the perfect sort of dish to bring warmth into your November darkened kitchen.

Like all my recipes I started off with a sweet flavour base:

I tossed them into a large sauté pan with the oil heated over medium-high heat

From there, I added in my eggplant to give it a chance to cook for 5-7 minutes.

Once it was nicely browned I added in the rest of the veggies, dried fruit and beans before adding in my couscous, stock and orange juice.  Then I removed it from the heat, covered it and within 5 minutes I had dinner.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Couscous

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

¼ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cayenne

¼ tsp cardamom

¼ tsp coriander

½ onion, diced

¼ cup chopped dried apricots

¼ cup dried currents

2 c. chopped vegetables (I used bell pepper and eggplant)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 c. couscous

1 c. vegetable broth/stock

½ c. orange juice

Directions

Heat oil over medium high heat, add in onion and cook for 2 minutes, until softened.  Add in your garlic and spices, mix well and cook for another 30 seconds before adding in your eggplant.

Cook eggplant for 5-7 minutes until well browned and then add in your bell pepper, chick peas and dried fruit.  Let them cook through for another 3-5 minutes.

Add in couscous, vegetable stock and orange juice. Stir to combine then cover and remove from heat to allow the couscous  to absorb the liquid.  After five minutes stir to fluff up then serve.

This will easily serve 4 people as a main dish, or 6 as a side.

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