Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fast, Filling Couscous with Roasted Veggies Is a Favorite Meal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fast, Filling Couscous with Roasted Veggies Is a Favorite Meal

Article excerpt

IN PARIS, American students quickly learn about Algerian restaurants. For a few francs you get a platter of couscous topped with vegetables, garbanzo beans and spices. It fills you up for less money than almost any other kind of cuisine.

Couscous is the national dish of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, and is traditionally served for Friday lunch. A fine pellet made from semolina flour, the grain that makes the couscous dish is also called cous cous.

With the rise of interest in Middle Eastern cooking, special couscous pots, called couscousieres, are available in gourmet cookware stores. Avid couscous fans recommend using them instead of regular pots. The couscousiere sets the grain and accompanying vegetables in a separate pan above steaming water, which allows the couscous to cook into plump grains that do not stick together. Some cooks also recommend rinsing the grains in cold water, then spreading them in a shallow pan to let the grains plump slightly before steaming. The simplest method - which I use when I'm in a rush - calls for stirring the couscous into boiling water or broth, then whisking constantly while the grains plump. Couscous remains one of my favorite quick-meal foods, even though my student days in Paris were over many years ago. I like to serve it with vegetable kebabs and a side dish of cool raita (yogurt-cucumber sauce). COUSCOUS PLATTER WITH GRILLED VEGETABLES For grilled vegetables: 8 large mushrooms 1/2 large eggplant, cut into 2-inch cubes 1 red bell pepper, cut into eighths 1 green bell pepper, cut into eighths 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic For couscous: 3 cups water 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 2 cups couscous Fresh basil leaves, for garnish; optional To prepare grilled vegetables: Skewer mushrooms, eggplant, bell peppers and zucchini on skewers; place on broiling pan. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic in small bowl. Brush mixture liberally over vegetables. Turn and brush other side of vegetables. …

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