Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Not just plain ol' couscous

Because it’s convenient and goes well with everything, couscous is a staple that I always keep on hand in my pantry.I have long been a fan of cous cous as it cooks quicker than you have time to blink. In its plain state, however, it can be a tad underwhelming, like polenta, unless you have lots of sauce or juices to pour over it to spice it up.Couscous pairs beautifully with a number of flavours in a main dish or as a side,accordingly I serve it in different guises to many of our guests,and the response  is  always "I love cous cous"
And who is of the school of thought that couscous is actually just another form of pasta?  
Some foodies consider this grain product to be a type of pasta, but the similarity is ostensible — couscous is made of crushed durum wheat semolina, not the ground type used for pasta. That couscous is less refined is good news for health-conscious cooks.The traditional way of making couscous is a pretty cool process. Instead of combining the semolina with water and egg to make into a dough as one would for pasta, couscous is produced by moistening the semolina with a little water or oil between your hands until it crumbles into tiny granules or pearls.
Couscous is a treasured staple food in the Middle East. When it is bejewelled, say, with pomegranate seeds and almonds, and presented with tagines and other accompaniments, it does indeed look a feast fit for a sultan. But couscous does not need to be complicated. In fact, at its simplest, it is much quicker to prepare than pasta or rice. 
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have a couscoussiére in my batterie de cuisine.
 I don't think a couscousiere is an essential tool for anyone, to be perfectly honest, it is more of a Moroccan kitchen contraption than an essential awesome culinary indulgence.It's a rather large piece of kitchen bling,that does have multi tasking going for it.The upper steaming portion is just perfect for steaming anything you want to be flavoured by what is being cooked in the lower portion.Meat, Fish, vegetables, or Cha siu bao, if the mood took you! If you have a small kitchen and want to make authentic couscous whats wrong with just using a metal colander that fits snugly inside a large pan. Don't worry about the holes being too big. You will lose a couple couses, but what the heck,why not do what I have always done.

Smoked Paprika, Almond and Herb Couscous
 This side dish is so smoky and fragrant, you may find yourself like me pushing aside the main course so that you can focus your attention on it. Smoked paprika not only lends its intense flavour to the couscous, but it also adds a glorious colour, creating the most beautiful auburn hue. Toasted sliced almonds add textural crunch to the dish (something I find that is all too often missing in plain ol' couscous), and a slew of chopped fresh parsley brings its pop of green freshness to the equation. Enjoy this as a bed for pork tenderloin roast chicken, grilled steak, or even just a pile of juicy roasted vegetables for a simple, satisfying meal.Dont be surprised when I say I would be happy to to eat bowl of it all on its own.
Serves 6 to 8 portions as a side dish
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup sliced almonds
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
250ml cup vegetable stock
150g (5oz) couscous
3/4 teaspoon Flor de sal
2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or casserole until shimmering. Add the garlic and almonds and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and the nuts are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the paprika and sauté for 10 seconds more.
Add the stock, stir to combine, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat and immediately stir in the couscous and salt. Cover and let stand until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork. Mix in the parsley and serve.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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