March 05, 2010

Quick and Dirty Couscous

I go through phases with my favorite pantry items. A couple months ago, I ate tuna at least three times a week. Before that it was spaghetti rigati (with the little ridges so that the sauce--if I had time to make sauce--would stick better). When I first moved on my own, I was in a couscous phase. It was easy, yes. But I think I ate it because within ten minutes of being home from work it was ready.

That's no way to enjoy couscous. I have a feeling I am on the cusp of a new couscous phase, but since then I've developed some techniques to make it so much more interesting. I always buy the bulk jars of plain couscous. Follow the directions on the box--always use broth, not water. As you simmer the broth, add in a bay leaf, two juniper berries, a small pinch of schuan peppers, a pinch of salt, and a lot of cumin and cayeanne pepper (as much as you can take). Sometimes I add a dash of smoked paprika or coriander.

When the broth is simmering, put the couscous in, cover, and cook as directed on the box. Meanwhile, take two full size carrots or a handful of smaller carrots, and grate them with the fine side of a box grater, or with a micro-plane.

When the couscous is finished, fluff it with a fork, and mix in the carrots. Toss in raisins (I like golden ones best) and top with roughly chopped pistachios or toasted almonds. You could also are queso fresca or feta.

It goes well with everything--roasted lamb, grilled steak, roasted fish with lemon. Or you can just eat it out of the pot before you've taken you coat off. (That's it, above, with fried fish, hummus, and yogurt.)

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