7 Dec 2010

Convenient Couscous

For hundreds of years couscous has been a staple grain dish in the Mediterranean   countries. Basic couscous is made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina. The end result is tiny round pellets. In some parts it is also made with barley, millet, yams or cornmeal.

Nowadays,the commercial, ready made semolina product has become a popular dish Worldwide due to it being quick and easy to prepare. It has already been pre-steamed so only requires to be soaked for 10 minutes in boiling water or lightly steamed.

Couscous is one of the healthiest grain products and has a much low glycemic load than regular pasta. It contains thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2 niacin), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and folate, and containing four times as much. It has a good protein content of 3.6 grams per every 100 calories.

So if you haven't tried it before, why not buy a box and try it out. I am sure it will become part of your staple foods. It can be served hot or cold in savoury and sweet dishes. When creating a dish allow 100g / 4oz of uncooked couscous per person.
Festive Couscous
Adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson at B.B.C. Food   
This is one of those wonderful dishes that demands little but delivers massive dividends. Just sprinkle the spiced couscous with fresh coriander and those vibrant jewels of pomegranate seeds and present at the table in all its magnificence ~ Nigella

675g / 1lb 8oz couscous
100g / 4oz golden sultanas
1/4 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 heaped tsp paprika
1/2 heaped tsp ground cumin
1/2 heaped tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 litre / 1 3/4 pints freshly boiled water
5 1/2 tbsp vegetable stock
1 1/2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 pomegranate
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the couscous, sultanas, spices and salt into a microwave-proof bowl and mix well. Add the freshly boiled water to the bowl and then cover the bowl with cling film or tight fitting cover. Leave the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed by the couscous. Remove the cling film or cover from the bowl and stir the couscous with a fork to separate the grains. Add the vegetable stock and the olive oil to the couscous. Stir the mixture again and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If necessary, re-cover and microwave on full power for 1-2 minutes, or place in a warm oven to heat through. Transfer the couscous to a serving dish. Slice the pomegranate in half and extract about a quarter of the seeds by hitting the outer shell of the fruit with a rolling pin. Sprinkle them over the couscous with the chopped coriander and serve. Serves 8 as side dish.

Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Vegetables
From the Vegetarian Times    
Oil-cured Moroccan olives, such as Beldi, add a distinct, salty flavour to this dish. For a milder taste, use kalamata olives.

2 cups couscous
4 tsps canola oil
2 bulbs fennel, slivered, grated, or finely chopped (1 cup)
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts finely chopped (1/2 cup)
6 cloves garlic, chopped (2 tbsps)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (1 cup)
a few saffron threads (I use turmeric~Jackie)
2 cups baby arugula leaves (rocket)
1/2 cup chopped, pitted oil-cured or kalamata olives
3 tbsps olive oil
fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Set aside. Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, leek, and garlic, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute to deglaze pan. Add peas, and let wine reduce 1 minute more, then add broth. Add couscous, tomatoes, and saffron; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in arugula, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spoon into bowls, then top with olives, olive oil, and basil. Serves 6

Couscous with Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
By BBC Nutritionist from Honey We're Killing the Kids at B.B.C. Food  

85g / 3oz sun-dried tomatoes, from a bag (not stored in oil)
535ml / 19fl oz water
215g / 7½oz couscous
1 tbsp olive oil
4 1/2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 1/2 bunches spring onions, chopped
25g / 1oz fresh basil leaves
3/4 lemon, juice only
salt and freshly ground black pepper
170g / 6oz mushrooms, sliced

Place the sun-dried tomatoes into a bowl with the water. Soak for 30 minutes, until rehydrated. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, reserving the water, and roughly chop the tomatoes. Place a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the reserved sun-dried tomato water and bring to the boil. Add the couscous and stir in. Remove the saucepan from heat, cover with a lid and allow to sit for five minutes, until liquid has been absorbed by the couscous. Gently fluff the couscous with a fork. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a shallow pan. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and spring onions and sauté for five minutes, until the spring onions are tender. Add the basil and lemon juice and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Add the mushroom mixture to the couscous, stir through to mix well and serve. Serves 3

Fig and Pistachio Couscous
From Recipes4us  

240ml / 8fl.oz. Water
1 tbsp olive oil
175g / 6oz dried Figs, thinly sliced
1 heaped tbsp Pistachio Nuts, chopped
175g / 6oz Couscous
1 level tsp Ground cinnamon
¼ tsps ground allspice
4 spring onions, chopped
8 basil leaves, shredded

Place the water, oil, salt, figs and nuts in medium saucepan, bring to boil then remove from heat and stir in couscous and spices. Cover and leave to stand until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. 2. Transfer to a large bowl, fluff with fork and allow to cool completely. Stir in the spring onions and basil. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4.

Couscous Pudding
Recipe submitted by Spark People user ANTIOCHIA.

3 cups soy milk
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsps margarine / Earth Balance
1 cup couscous
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon for sprinkling on top
soy creamer (Optional)

Put the soy milk, raisins, sugar, and margarine in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in the couscous and vanilla. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold sprinkled with cinnamon. You may pour on additional soy milk or use soy creamer - Silk makes a good creamer ~ Antiochia. Servings 8


Anji said...

We like cous cous. Though my son informs me that the grains are 'semoule' and cous cous is the traditional dish. In the summer we make taboulé - even I can do that and it really is great with summer dishes or as a starter

Greenearth said...

Always love your food.

Dirty Butter said...

Never have tried Couscous. We tend to avoid pastas, due to glycemic concerns, but this sounds like one I could eat. Thank, as always for the great information.

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Jon Konrath said...

If you can't find Israeli couscous at your local grocer, try looking for Mediterranean or Middle-eastern couscous instead. Recently found Whole Foods renamed it in their bulk food section, probably for some bizarre political correctness reason. Still delicious either way.

Anonymous said...

I love cous cous, thank you for the recipes :-)

Marion said...

So sorry I missed this post...couscous is a favourite in the summertime as it cooks so quickly. That pudding looks amazing...I never thought of doing something like this! Thank you!

I want to wish you a happy holiday season, Jackie, and I hope you have a prosperous and healthy New Year.

Jim said...

Thank you for sharing your recipes. I am glad I found your blog. I eat a mostly vegan diet because it is healthy and alkaline for the most part. Keep up the great job!