Pasta with raisins and nuts? The very notion may sound like that last ingredient, but trust me on this. The first step is expanding your notion of “pasta.”
Couscous, which is a traditional North African dish and the main ingredient in today’s recipe, is actually a tiny form of pasta. You may have had couscous before either warm or at room temperature and thought you were eating rice, but the soft little granules are most often made of coarsely ground semolina, the same stuff used to make spaghetti.
Couscous is great to build recipes around because it’s very versatile and can be made in about 10 minutes. As for ease of cooking, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. If you can boil water, you can make couscous.
The nutritious little spheres also act as great conveyors for a variety of flavors – even ones involving fruit. Ready to give it a go? Let’s get a little crazy with
Cuckoo Good Couscous
(Makes 4-6 servings)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or water)
- 2 cups couscous
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/3 cup minced red onions
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped raisins
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Music for while you cook: Today for me it’s all about variety — 2009 Grammy Nominees
Step 1: Pour the chicken broth into a pot that is at least 4 quarts big, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. You can use water, but you’ll get more flavor with the broth. You can also use vegetable or beef broth.
Step 2: Dump in the couscous, stir well, kill the heat and cover for five minutes. There — you just made couscous.
Step 3: While the couscous is steeping, chop up the rest of the ingredients. Feel free to use more of less of any ingredient — these are just the supporting actors in our couscous dish.
Step 4: After five minutes, remove the lid from the pot. As you can see, the couscous has absorbed all the liquid and roughly doubled in size. Fluff, pour into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Congratulations! You’ve just made a super easy, flavorful and healthful dish that can be served warm or at room temperature, and as a side or a main course. Now that you’ve got the basics down, try experimenting with additional ingredients, herbs and spices. Fish and shrimp pair well with couscous, as do heavier main courses such as lamb and chicken.
Did you try this recipe? Write about your experience, ask questions or share advice in the comments area below.
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