What is your favorite recipe using couscous? Do you make a pilaf? Put it under stew? I admit that my experience has been only with the salty Near East versions in the box. I decided to buy a bag of plain cous cous yesterday. Just wondering what to do with it now and also what to have with it.
A trick for making your cous cous (or any other grain) light and fluffy:
Have the liquid and other ingredients boiling. Toast the cous cous in a dry pan, and when very hot (be careful not to burn) add to liquid (it will foam up so make sure the pot is big enough), cover and take off heat. Let sit for five minutes.
re: Sarah McC
I actually make couscous the traditional way, which is extremely impractical, but results in light-as-a-feather grains. Here's how it works:
Place a couple of cups of couscous in a bowl. Pour in about half a cup of warm salted water and some olive oil, and stir with your hands, breaking up any clumps. Leave sit for about 15-30 minutes.
Next, place the couscous in a steamer. If the holes in your steamer are too big and the couscous runs through, line the steamer with cheesecloth. Steam over gently simmering water for about an hour. Remove the couscous, and when it is cool enough, rub some more olive oil, or, better yet, melted butter or ghee into it, again breaking up the clumps.
Next, steam again for about thirty minutes. After this, you can mix in some oil or butter again and serve, or steam a third time and then serve.
This is an incredibly amount of time, but the difference between this and regular couscous is substantial. It is important not to use "instant couscous" which is already pre-steamed. In fact, although I live in Los Angeles where you can find every ethnic ingredient, I have concluded that you cannot actually find truly raw couscous that has not been partially cooked unless you make it yourself. As a compromise, I buy the couscous from the bins at Whole Foods, which I believe to be only minimally pre-cooked.
About two weeks ago, I made it this way and served it with Fish Tagine. Mmmmm....!!!!!
my go to couscous recipe: fresh cilantro chopped, frozen corn kernels (defrosted) cubed avocado, black beans, fresh cilantro, cumin, chopped red onion, grape tomatoes (halved) chopped orange or yellow bell pepper and cubes smoked cheese. oh and the juice of half of a lime and a little olive oil id you want, but it's not needed. i mix it all up when the couscous is hot, but eat it out of the fridge the next day too. so delicious. my mom make a greek salad style one with feta, cukes, tomato, chickpeas, oregano, lemon, olive oil, bell peppers and whatever else you like :)
I am no expert, but I do love the taste AND texture of couscous.
The best results (at least in my opinion) are to treat it like a risotto rice; braise it with onion, garlic, fennel, or celery with either butter or olive oil until evenly coated and then stir stock (or water) into it as a risotto. only add 1/2 cup of fluid at a time so you can keep on top of its texture. you don't want it to be soggy or stodgey! it should exhibit the same texture as pasta or rice; and your interpretation of this, can be vegetarian or not.
In the summer, I like couscous salads. Prepare the couscous and let cool to room temp. Add lots of chopped parsely (and chopped mint or basil if you like), diced scallions and/or red onions, dress with a tart lemon-olive oil vinaigrette. To this you can add all sorts of things: chick pease, olives, roasted red peppers, julienned carrots, celery, capers, or some combination.
Like tabouli but a bit less heavy.
re: Sarah McC
Most recipes go with a 1:1 ratio.
I use couscous as what Alton Brown terms "refrigerator Velcro." I saute whatever veggies I have at hand in some olive oil (finely diced carrots and onions are a standard), throw in a handful of dried fruit and nuts (also just whatever's around) and a can of low sodium chicken broth plus enough water to make two cups total of liquid. Bring that to a boil, kill the heat, stir in two cups of couscous, cover, steam, fluff and serve. Add the grilled or broiled protein of your choice and a small side salad and that's dinner sorted in about 20 minutes.
i've used it as a "crust" for vegetable casseroles. i usually soak it in lemon or oj (boiling water isn't needed, just warm liquid gives a crisper texture) and then pat it into a pie dish. fill with moroccan spiced vegetables, even some shredded chicken if i have it, and bake.
I always keep a box or two of cous cous around (I love the Trader Joe's whole wheat kind). It's handy to have for a quick starch on the side of almost anything, I definitely use it under Morrocan-style stews (even a "fake" one). But I'll also toss cooked chicken/pork.beef with leftover cous cous, toss in some raisins and nuts (almonds or cashews are great), some frozen peas, and sprinkle on some spices -- heat it up and it's a great dish. I usually end up doing this with leftovers (whatever I have on hand) -- but it would be a good "new" dish too. But cous cous is great just as a subsitute for rice on a plate -- add some butter if you don't have a sauce or gravy to go over it.
this is a fabulous recipe:
Roasted Vegetable Couscous Salad With Harissa-style Dressing
For the roasted vegetables
1 small eggplant
2 medium zucchini
1 lb cherry tomatoes, skinned
1 small red pepper, de-seeded and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm)
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
1 large onion, sliced and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm)
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, torn so that they stay quite visible
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces pitted black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained
salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the couscous
10 ounces medium couscous
18 fluid ounces vegetable stock
4 ounces firm goat cheese
salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
3 ounces mixed salad greens or baby greens
For the dressing
4 fluid ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato puree
4 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 tablespoon black onion seeds
First prepare the roasted vegetables: prepare the eggplant and zucchini ahead of time by cutting them into 1 inch (2.5 cm) dice, leaving the skins on. Then toss the dice in a level teaspoon of salt and pack them into a colander with a plate on top and a heavy weight on top of the plate. Leave them on one side for an hour so that some of the bitter juices drain out. After that, squeeze out any juices left, and dry the dice thoroughly in a clean cloth. Preheat the oven to gas mark 9, 475°F (240°C).
Now arrange the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, pepper, fennel and onion in the roasting pan or sheet pan, sprinkle with the crushed garlic, basil and olive oil, toss everything around in the oil to get a good coating and season with salt and pepper. Place the pan on the highest shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are toasted brown at the edges.
When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and stir in the chopped olives and the capers then remove them to a plate to cool.
When you're ready to assemble the salad, first place the couscous in a large, heatproof bowl, then pour the boiling stock over it, add some salt and pepper, stir it with a fork, then leave on one side for 5 minutes, by which time it will have absorbed all the stock and softened.
Meanwhile cut the cheese into sugar cube-sized pieces. Make up the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl, then pour into a serving container. To serve the salad, place the couscous in a large, wide salad bowl and gently fork in the cubes of cheese along with the roasted vegetables. Next arrange the salad leaves on top and, just before serving, drizzle a little of the dressing over the top followed by a sprinkling of onion seeds and pass the rest of the dressing around separately.