Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vegetable Couscous

What is it Seth Rogen says in Pineapple Express..."couscous, the food's so nice they named it twice," right? Couscous and its complementary spices and ingredients are very commonly found in Indian food aisles of grocery stores, but, fun fact: it actual origins are North Africa. Wherever it comes from, or whatever style of food you decide to cook with couscous, one thing is for sure, it's a welcome deviation from usual rice dishes. Couscous even has a different texture than rice; it's "fluffy" and soft. Additionally, some health-oriented websites posit that couscous dishes are usually lower in calories than rice dishes.

The recipe I used is from The Cook's Library Vegetarian, also known as my own personal Bible. Seriously, this cookbook, given to me by my mother, is the only reason I know my you-know-what from a whole in the ground in the kitchen. Not to say that it's elementary, because there are some extremely challenging recipes in there, and a multitude of ingredients that I had never even heard of before reading about them in this book.

With the exception of not including turmeric or turnips, I stayed very true to the recipe. Usually, I take the time to make my own fresh vegetable bullion, as the book suggests, but, admittedly, I cheated and used a pre-made vegetable broth from the store. This was actually my first experience cooking couscous. The book rates this recipe as "moderately difficult," but I think anyone but a complete novice would be able to handle this. My boyfriend, who at first turned his nose up to the idea of another vegetarian dinner, saw me helping myself to seconds and gave in. He loved it. I used slightly more of each ingredient than the recipe asked for so I had leftovers to take with me to work the next day--a welcomed change from my usual packed lunches of crackers and apples.

The casual cook may not find this recipe to be something you can just make yourself for lunch. The book indicates that it takes twenty minutes to prepare and forty minutes to cook, but keep in mind that even if you decide not to make fresh bullion, you still must finely chop many vegetables (a time-consuming process) and continuously monitor and stir the ingredients in stovetop pans to prevent overcooking or burning. This recipe, which has zucchini, carrots, onion, green beans, and red bell peppers, would be a perfect dinner for two, or, increase the portions and make enough for a family dinner or dinner party with friends. I guarantee you that you'll want to share this zesty little spice-filled meal--vegetable couscous is, in a nutshell, scrumptious.

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