Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Chickpeas and Onion-Pinenut Topping (Al Cuscus bil Khodar al-mausim)

Picture courtesy of Cooking Light

Trying to cut down on the amount of meat I had to buy this week, I decided we were going to have 2, count them, 2 meatless nights.  Good news for me since I will actually get to eat dinner.  Thankfully, my darling husband never complains about eating veggie.  This one is so hardy that I don't think he will be sneaking off for a bowl of cereal an hour after dinner like he does on most vegetarian nights.

 I know it seems like a lot of steps and ingredients, but it comes together quickly.  While the veggies are roasting, you can get the couscous and topping ready, so once the timer goes off, bam! There's dinner.  It's nice enough for serving to company, but easy enough to make for a casual night at home.

The original recipe called for sweet potatoes, but we aren't a sweet potato kind of family, so I replaced it with butternut squash.  Feel free to do one or the other (or both!).

The spice mix adds a wonderful ethnic flavor and warmth.  It is a great one to have on hand for those times you want a little spice for veggies or rice.  It will keep for 1 month in an airtight container.  I double the spice in the couscous recipe, so if you're one to worry about spice, add 1/2 of it and sprinkle some on the dish later if you feel it needs it.  I think most will enjoy the amount I used.

I got this recipe from CookingLight.com.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Chickpeas and Onion-Pinenut Topping

5 cups diced peeled butternut squash or sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds) 
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced peeled parsnips (about 10 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout (recipe to follow)
3 carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces (about 9 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, separated into rings
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. To prepare couscous, combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place potato mixture on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in couscous and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork; gently stir in chickpeas. Keep warm.

4. To prepare topping, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 12 minutes or until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add pine nuts and raisins; cook 2 minutes. Stir in cinnamon; cook 30 seconds. Stir in honey, and remove from heat.

5. Mound couscous in the middle of a serving platter. Place the roasted vegetables around base of couscous. Arrange 5 carrots vertically around couscous; spoon topping over top of couscous.

Ras el Hanout

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed (if you cannot find saffron or don't want to buy, omit)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

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