I mentioned yesterday that I recently bought a giant bag of Couscous from Grace Ottawa–ten pounds for ten dollars! An amazing deal compared to the huge prices for tiny packages at the grocery store. And now I have approximately 9.2 pounds of couscous left to eat. Luckily I’ve got 1 year to do it.
The reason I’ve got 9.2 and not 10 pounds of it left is that we’ve eaten couscous twice so far this week. It’s my new summer side-starch! Like my search for a bread I can make that won’t raise the thermometer, I’ve also been looking for a starch I can prepare with a minimum of boiling/cooking (you may have noticed by now I’m a hopeless carb-o-holic!). Unfortunately brown rice, though flavourful and filling, takes 45 minutes of humidity-inducing simmering. Other starches like white rice, potatoes and pasta don’t need quite so long, but when I saw the couscous, I knew I had a winner.
Couscous is made of durum semolina, which is basically pasta, but instant couscous (the kind I bought–lucking out, it turns out, since I didn’t know there was a non-instant kind!) has been previously steamed and then dried, and this is why it can be prepared by simply pouring a cup of boiling water poured over it and letting it sit for 5 minutes. While not terribly nutritious by itself, couscous extends and complements bean salads and other dishes remarkably well. I like to add a dressing, and then any number of chopped up veggies and herbs; whatever I’ve got left over really!
Last night I threw together a can of mixed beans with some chopped red pepper, scallion, cucumber, cilantro, soy sauce marinated tofu, and the leftover sesame-peanut sauce I had from Thursday’s rice bowls. I added a bit more lemon juice for a flavour punch, and stuck it in the fridge to blend. It was a delicious and substantial salad that my girl and I ate out of the lid at the park for our supper.
Another couscous recipe I love is tabouli: a background of couscous highlighted with diced peppers, tomato and chick peas, flavoured with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic, with a ton of chopped parsley to blend it all together. It keeps remarkably well, and is good as a dinner side, or by itself for lunch.
I’ll be looking for other couscous recipes to try this summer, so if you have one you love, please share it. Hooray for no-cook summer dinners!
Tabouli (adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)
1 cup couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 med clove garlic, crushed
black pepper to taste
4 scallions, minced finely
1 cup packed minced parsley
1 to 2 tbsp dried mint (or 10 to 15 fresh mint leaves, minced)
2 med tomatoes, diced
1/2 to 1 med cucumber, diced
1/2 each green and red peppers, diced
1 can chick peas
Pour boiling water over couscous and let sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, blend together the dressing ingredients: salt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and pepper, and mix into couscous.
Add the rest of the veggies and stir. Chill well before serving.