Winter weather and a weekend of nonstop noshing in New York have conquered my girlish figure. Time to swap the pasta and red meat for.....couscous? I used to think couscous was something only boring people eat (no offense to Israeli folks -- it's only boring when Americans appropriate it at home). But I was so wrong! Or maybe I'm just boring. But this couscous is definitely NOT boring! It's so unboring that you could bring it to a party and the hosts might even invite you back. In fact, this couscous is a party in itself!
I should also mention that it's filling and well-balanced enough to be a whole meal in itself, thanks to the addition of chickpeas, various veg, and cheese.
Recipe: Couscous with Personality
Makes 4 servings as main course, reheats well in the mike, and lasts almost a week. Although some of the ingredients may sound expensive, you will have enough left over to make this dish or use them for something else several more times. Around here, at least, Trader Joe's has the best prices on frozen, canned, and jarred ingredients, as well as cheese.
2 T olive oil, divided
1 small chopped onion
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 15 oz. can chickpeas
1 C chopped frozen or canned artichoke hearts
dash of ground coriander
dash of ground cumin
big dash of dried basil
1/3 C frozen peas, thawed
1/3 C chopped sundried tomatoes
1/4 C chopped, pitted olives (any kind will do)
1 C couscous (wheat or white is fine)
big handful of spinach
1 t lemon zest (optional, but highly recommended)
2 T chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (optional, but recommended)
salt and pepper
crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional)
Heat 1 T oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook till softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Add chickpeas, artichoke hearts, and spices, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add peas, sundried tomatoes, and olives. Turn heat to low. Meanwhile, bring salted water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add couscous and 1 T oil; stir well, then let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Add spinach to chickpeas and veg mixture and cook till it wilts. Turn off heat and add lemon zest and parsley or cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and add to pot. Serve sprinkled with feta or goat cheese, if desired.
UPDATE: My friend Mike, who's, like, enormously fat, just informed me that couscous is a "bad carb." I happen to use the wheat kind anyway, as I, too, am on the verge of rotundity. If you are worried about extra poundage or just want to eliminate the processed carbohydrates, opt for wheat.