16 July 2009

California Couscous

Couscous has got to be one of my favorite comfort foods. As the tiny pasta particles cook, they take on a deeply-satisfying creaminess, and I love eating it by the fluffy spoonful. Last night I needed to fix dinner in a hurry and knew I could depend on this great standby. Even though it is such a quick dish to make, I really enjoy my time with it. Couscous has such a conservative flavor, making it a fantastic (and forgiving) canvas upon which to let your culinary artistry take wing. Every time I cook with it, I end up doing something new, with great results. Last night I layered flavors drawn from the local Mexican cuisine over this traditionally Middle Eastern dish and paired it with some grilled chicken for a great supper. Here is my latest invention!

Cumin-scented Couscous Salad

1 (generous) cup water
1 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 green onions, white parts only, sliced thin
1/2 cup regular couscous
1/2 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 tomato, finely chopped, with juices
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, combine water, butter, salt, cumin, coriander, and onions. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking ingredients together once butter has melted. When at a boil, add couscous, give it a brief stir, and cover pan snugly with a lid. Turn off heat and let couscous sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Transfer couscous to a large bowl, and let cool for a few minutes (hot couscous will wilt and discolor the fresh cilantro). Add chopped tomato with juices and cilantro and gently stir to combine. Adjust seasoning with more salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.

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