Thursday, 19 June 2014

Count Couscous

I’ve been intrigued with couscous for a while. Not the kind you get in hotel buffets which is completely dried out and ice cold, but the actual warm, soaked in chicken stock kinda salad. So what does a tired, hungry vegan (yes I have been vegan on and off for a while) eat on Sunday nights when everyone else is having chicken curry? You pull out a box of couscous that you bought over a year ago, any vegetables you can find and make a go of it. The results can be surprising. 

I’ve tried two different couscous brands with varied results – pearled couscous, which is slightly larger and resembles ermmm…pearls, has to be boiled in salted water for ten minutes before its ready to eat.

The other kind seems to be more traditional, no cooking, just soak it in either boiling water or hot chicken stock for ten minutes and voila!

I’m pretty sure you can mix cous cous with anything you want, however I’m partial to a vegetable mix of red and yellow peppers, carrots, garlic and onion. We try to stick to quantities, but it’s just so hard when you’re a greedy gump. Any that’s left over is usually finished the next day before lunchtime, so it’s actually ok if we make too much.

So healthy
What you need
I packet pearl OR 1 cup regular couscous
1 red pepper (cut into thick slices)
1 yellow pepper (cut into thick slices)
2 large red carrots (sliced length wise)
1 or 2 small whole onions
5 or 6 large cloves garlic
Olive oil
Lemon juice

Step 1
Preheat your oven to roasting temperature (around 200degrees C). The printed temperatures wore off my oven ages ago, so I am assuming it’s around that!

Step 2
Put the peppers, carrots, onion and garlic on a baking tray and douse liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for 30 – 40 minutes or until the carrots are soft and sweet (go on, you know you can taste them if you want to).
All prepped
Step 3
If you’re using pearl couscous, put a pot of salted water to boil and add the couscous when the water is done. Leave for ten minutes or until you can taste the doneness with your teeth (this is the identical process to boiling pasta).

Step 3 again!
If you’re using regular couscous, you don’t need to make chicken stock from scratch (because life’s too short to make stock!). Use stock cubes, no one will blame you and more importantly – no one will know!

Stock piled

Step 3.1
Put one cup of couscous in a glass bowl and cover it with 2 cups of boiling hot chicken stock. (If you’re going with the vegetarian option, you can use veggie stock or even plain water.) I like my couscous fat and fluffy so I add more liquid than most recipes call for. You can alter to your tastes. The less you put, the dryer it grain.

Absorbing the stock
Step 4
Roughly chop the peppers and carrots up into pieces that are around the same size. SQUOOSH the garlic out of its skin so it comes out soft and sticky, and make sure you peel the onion layers away from each other. They’ll fall apart at the slightest touch, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Step 5
Add the vegetables to the couscous and mix well. Drizzle olive oil on the top and serve. Optional garnishes are lemon juice and parsley, which I leave entirely to your discretion. You can eat this as a meal in itself (which I do, all the time!) or serve as a salad accompanying fish, chicken or mutton.

It’s delicious, decadent and not so heavy on the tummy though I promise you, you will be full to bursting by the time you’re done eating.

I'm super excited with how bright these pictures are!
Pearl couscous

Giant portion for 1 
Ignore the spoon!