This one is a summery version of the all-time classic
Summer Vegetable Couscous: We make it light and summery by using quick-cooking and fragrant light summer vegetables, like fennel, artichokes, zucchini or Swiss Chard, tomatoes, fresh fava beans
Meat or Chicken Vegetable Couscous
Would you like to make it into a meat main course? Very simple. And it makes a complete dinner: vegetables, protein, grain: it’s all there, and then some!
Scroll down to the bottom for instructions.
Couscous is traditionally made in a Couscoussier:
A deep narrowish pot-bellied two part pot. The bottom part is filled two-thirds with water, and a top part with a perforated bottom where the couscous grain go and gets all permeated with the steam.
But you know what? I always fear these added steps, albeit simple, would act as a deterrent. With my much-simplified just-about-perfect method, you might make couscous more often. And not just for the larger couscous dish, but also for a simple side dish, or a base for couscous bowl.
The Right Couscous
The product affectionately called Israeli Couscous is not couscous act all. It is very good, yes, but it is a pasta, and it is NOT what you want for couscous. For vegetable coucous and all couscous dishes, you want the couscous grain on the left.
The Perfect Couscous Grain
Please ignore the instructions on the box, which often yield a mushy, untextured and watery grain. Instead, follow my no-fail instructions for a dry-plump finished grain. 1 cup couscous grain, 1 cup boiling water: 1:1 is the perfect ratio!
Couscous vegetable mixture:
- 3 large leeks, cut across, then in 1 inch segment
- 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, or 6 large plum tomatoes, cut in wedges
- 2 cups frozen artichoke bottoms (settle for canned), sliced
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs and leaves, thinly sliced (or 3 thin zucchini, cut into 1 inch segments)
- 1 large fennel head, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green fava beans (settle for frozen edamame
- 1 small bunch cilantro, tough stems removed, minced
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 good pinches saffron
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 6 bay leaves, or 1 teaspoon ground
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups couscous
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring all vegetable mixture ingredients to a boil in a wide heavy pot.
Reduce the flame to medium and cook, covered, 20 minutes. Transfer the vegetable to a platter with a slotted spoon, and check the liquids in the pot. If you have about 3 cups left in the pot, the liquid is at the right texture. If you have too much liquid, reduce it on high temperature, uncovered, just a few minutes, until you end up with about 3 cups liquid.
While the dish is cooking, prepare the couscous grain:
Place the grain in a stainless steel bowl with the water, oil, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Immediately cover very tightly with 2 layers of foil. Let the mixture rest 15 minutes, then fluff it with 2 forks until the grains are separated.
Pour the couscous grain in the bottom of a platter. Pour some of the cooking broth evenly on the grain, only as much as the grain will absorb. Don’t allow a mushy or soupy look. Arrange the vegetables over the grain. Pass any remaining broth in a gravy boat. Serve with harissa on the side
Variation: Meat Summer Couscous.
Bring 4-5 pounds beef cubes (I love beef cheeks, be sure to rinse them thoroughly to rid them of the excess salt that goes into kashering them), lamb cubes or shanks to boil in a a wide heavy pot with about 8 cups water. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook 2 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure you have enough liquid, adding some if necessary. At the end of 2 1/2 hours of cooking the meat, check the liquid in the pot. if you have about 3 cups, you have enough liquid. If not add some to make up 3 cups.
Proceed with the recipe exactly as instructed, leaving the meat and its liquid in the pot, and adding everything else as instructed, except the water in the vegetarian recipe (since you have the meat cooking water).
Chicken Summer Couscous
You can also use chicken. Shorter cooking time, so put your chicken to boil with water, just like for the meat, but cook only 30 minutes, before adding all ingredients and proceeding with the recipe just as above.