Jan 14, 2011

Couscous 2 Ways

If you are looking for a quick and healthy side dish, couscous is always a good option. It is versatile and you can add your favorite veggies, herbs, and spices to spruce it up to your liking. Caitlin decided to make a Mediterranean flavored dish. Monica also used a bit of Mediterranean inspiration in her couscous with garden fresh flair. If you choose to make this you can also stuff bell peppers or tomatoes with the couscous and bake it in the oven. If you have never tried couscous you really should; and if you have, we hope we can inspire you to make it a new way!

Caitlin: Couscous is probably one of the most versatile side dishes, not mention healthy. It absorbs the flavors of whatever you cook it with, so there are a variety of options. I sauteed bell peppers and zucchini, then threw it all together with tomatoes, black olives, basil, olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkle of feta cheese. Easy, delicious and most importantly, healthy.
Caitlin's Version
Monica: I love couscous, because you can make a lot at one time, and it is always great the next day for lunch. I also love the fact that it can be made so many different ways and it tastes great warm or at room temperature. My "go-to" couscous recipe is made with peas, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper, capers (or kalamata olives) - seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and cayenne pepper. You can add fresh herbs, like basil and cilantro, but I decided to keep mine rather simple. I served this with my wraps and it went perfectly. I also packed up some of the leftovers and took it to work for lunch the next day...delicious! 
Monica's Version 
Ingredient List
1 1/2 cups coucous
2 cups chicken broth (or water, if you want to keep it vegetarian)

If preparing Caitlin's Version:
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, finely chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped black olives
1/4 cup chopped basil (or mint, if have extra from the serrano-mint sauce)
drizzle of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
*Feta cheese, to taste - optional
If preparing Monica's Version:
1 red pepper, seeded & chopped
1 yellow pepper, seeded & chopped
1 1/2 cups green peas (I prefer frozen)
2 tbs capers
Olive oil
2 Lemons
Cayenne Pepper
Kosher Salt

Boil the chicken broth, or water. When boiled, stir in the couscous, turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let sit for 5-7 minutes. Take lid off and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in your additions.

To prepare Caitlin's Version:

Saute your bell peppers and zucchini in olive oil and season with s&p. When the couscous is cooked, mix it with the cooked bell peppers,  zucchini, chopped tomatoes, black olives, basil or mint, lemon juice, olive oil, s&p. Top with crumbled feta cheese, if using.

To prepare Monica's Version:
While the couscous is setting...add the red pepper and yellow pepper to your pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Saute for a few minutes, then add the frozen peas. Mix the peas with the peppers and lower the heat. Cover and let cook until the peppers are soft.

Once the pepper and pea mixture is done, add the couscous to the pan over very low heat and combine. Add about another tablespoon of olive oil to flavor the mixture. Turn off the heat. Now add the salt and make sure to add plenty, but be sure not to over-salt.
Mix in capers and add the juice of 2 lemons. If you like the lemon taste, zest a bit of the lemon rind onto your couscous (about a teaspoon). I always add cayenne pepper to my couscous when I serve it. It looks pretty and gives it an extra kick. If you have fresh herbs on hand, you can also sprinkle them on top. Enjoy!

There are many recipes for sauces that you can add to your couscous...an herb based sauce would be terrific.
If you are making a Mediterranean inspired dish, you can always serve with Feta and Kalamata olives.

Add fresh herbs to your dish such as: cilantro, basil, parsley, and dill.
If this is your main and you want some protein, you can add: garbanzos (to keep it veggie), or shrimp.

Caitlin: Since I made the couscous with the fish - I was listening to The Specials. An upbeat and fun band to listen to while making (and eating) a lighter and easier dish.
Monica: This is a continuation of my playlist from the wraps, since they were served together. 
1)  Falling Slowly - The Frames 
2)  Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - Led Zeppelin
3)  Stand By Me - John Lennon
4)  Cupid - Sam Cooke
5)  Little Twig - Neil Halstead

A Recipe to Remember?
There are a million ways to make couscous, but these are two of our favorite versions!

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