Thursday, February 25, 2010

Israeli Couscous with Vegetables

I love couscous. That said, it's one of those things that doesn't make it onto the grocery list very often. If I had to give a reason, I would probably bring up the time I knocked over the measuring cup (which was full) and spilled couscous all over the counter, and floor, and stove. Couscous is so tiny and it rolls way faster than I expected. I found pieces of couscous for a month and a half after that.

Israeli couscous is less troublesome from the perspective of a clumsy cook. It's bigger, for one, so fewer pieces fit in a cup, which means fewer pieces to chase through the kitchen. The upside to couscous? It's really amenable to anything you throw at it and goes from season to season really easily. Curry? Can do. Soup? Check. Vegetable saute? Sign me up.

I sauteed onion and mushroom with zucchini, tomatoes, red pepper, and chili flakes until everything was slightly softened, but not fully cooked. I wanted bright, fresh flavors to go with our unseasonably sunny February day.

Add the couscous and feta and it became a nice bridge dish - not really a winter dish, but not quite bright enough to be a spring dish either. It was just what we were craving. Feta, for me, is one of those odd cheeses. When I think about it, it doesn't rank very high on the list of things I like. At all. But when I eat it, I like it. I'm pleasantly surprised every. single. time. I have to say; it's kind of nice. It's like getting a tiny little gift every time I eat a meal with feta.

Israeli Couscous
Serves 3-4, depending on appetites
1 c israeli couscous
1 t butter
1 c water
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 c crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 zucchini, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 c collard or other greens, chopped
1 t chili flakes
1/2 c feta, crumbled
  1. Add the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat and let it melt. Add the couscous and toast briefly, stirring. Add 1/4 c water and turn the heat to low, covering the couscous. After 2 minutes, add the remaining water and recover. (If it looks like it needs more water, add it. You can always drain it later.) Allow to steam for 10-15 minutes, until the couscous is only slightly firm in the middle. Remove from heat.
  2. Over medium-high heat, warm a pan and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and mushroom and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  3. Add the collard greens, tomato, and chili flakes and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the zucchini to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve the couscous with sauteed vegetables and feta.

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