Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the ultimate winter couscous

One of the things I love about my daytime hours alone during the school year is lunchtime. I heat up leftovers or fry an egg; maybe make a sandwich or a salad. Whatever. The important part is that I sit and enjoy it, without anyone asking me to pour him another cup of milk.

Tuesdays Abbott has hockey in the evening, so when I have time, I cook our dinner during the daytime. That way, when we’re in a rush to get to practice, we can still have something good to eat before we go. Today I made a couscous dish from one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Plenty. It’s hearty and warming and one of the most delicious vegetarian meals I’ve ever had.

the ultimate winter cousous
from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
8 shallots, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp chile flakes
2 1/2 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash (from a 10-oz squash)
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 cup chickpeas (canned or freshly cooked)
1 1/2 cups chickpea cooking liquid and/or water
1 cup couscous
Large pinch of saffron
1 cup boiling vegetable stock
3 tbsp butter, broken into pieces
2 tbsp harissa
1 oz preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the carrots, parsnips and shallots in a large ovenproof dish or rimmed baking sheet. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, 4 tablespoons of the oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt and all other spices and mix well. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the pumpkin or squash, stir and return to the oven. Continue cooking for about 35 minutes, until the vegetables should have softened but before they are mushy. Add the dried apricots and the chickpeas with their cooking liquid and/or water. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the vegetables will be ready, put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the saffron and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then add the butter and fluff up the couscous with a fork until the butter melts in.

To serve, spoon the couscous into a deep plate or bowl. Stir the harissa and chopped preserved lemon into the vegetables; taste and add more salt if needed. Spoon the vegetables onto the center of the couscous. Top with a good amount of cilantro leaves.

Yield: 4 servings


chai ling said...

one of my fave things to do in the office is to read your blog. not that i don't enjoy it reading at home when i get home but because it always calm my day to look into the 'window' and admire your beautiful photos and words while dealing with hills of paperwork :) Your photos are really amazing, Lecia. After 2 yrs, following your blog religiously, i still say to my husband 'i am happy growing old and wise with Lecia's blog' :))

country girl said...

Lecia, this sounds wonderful and nourishing. I would love to make it, but am pretty sure I won't find Harissa in my local market. Do you think it would taste good without it? Can you think of a substitute? Maybe grilled bell peppers?
xo Dawn

Jess said...

I love this cookbook. And now I know what I'm making next from it. Hope that cold is on its way out.

Tracy said...

I hope you are feeling better. Lovely photo.

thisfriendlyvillage said...

Received that book for my birthday. Love it!Margaret

Emily Vanessa said...

I have this cookbook so shame on me for not making it before. Your photo is irresistable though. Yes, there's something deeply satisfying about preparing and enjoying a meal just for you. Sorry to hear you've been ill and hope you're on the mend.

Rachael | The Slow-Cooked Sentence said...

That sounds delicious ... both the meal and the time alone to enjoy it. Wishing you health!

A Day That is Dessert said...

Chai Ling: thank you so much. I always enjoy hearing from you and feel like we've been friends for a long time. xo

Dawn: I did a search, and came up with several recipes for harissa. I would try and make your own! Here's one of them:: http://mideastfood.about.com/od/dipsandsauces/r/harissa.htm

Jess and Tracy: thank you.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Looks delicious! I'll be making this soon.

country girl said...

Thanks so much!

Francesca said...

I love my very rare solo lunches. I always think of couscous as a summer dish, I can't wait to try this winter version.

KPiep said...

I do miss couscous. Sounds delicious!