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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The LBD of Grains

As we have discussed in the past, everyone needs a little black dress.  You know, something that you can wear to lunch, dinner, cocktails, or a funeral.  It really should be called the little all purpose dress because it can be worn almost anywhere, and it's always just right.  Well, the little black dress of the grain family is couscous.  It can be a simple side or something much more elaborate.  It can be dressed up or down, depending on your needs.

The really great thing about couscous is that it can be prepared very simply by adding just some stock, salt, and pepper.  It can also be prepared to serve as a main dish, as is most often the case in Moroccan cuisine.  However it is prepared, couscous is very easy to make and is just delicious.

This recipe for Moroccan couscous can be a side or a really nice vegetarian main dish.  If you're feeling like really adding to it, and don't care about it being vegetarian, you can even add some shredded chicken.  However you make it, rest assured that like the LBD, you'll be ready for anything.

Moroccan Couscous
(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa in Paris, 2004)


2 cups 3/4 inch diced butternut squash
2 cups yellow onion onion, chopped
1 1/2 3/4 inch diced carrots
1 1/2 3/4 inch diced zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 1/2 cups couscous
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the butternut squash, carrots, onions, and zucchini on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Roast for 25 - 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and turn off the heat.  Add the butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the cumin, and saffron threads and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Bring the chicken stock just back to a boil.  Place the couscous and cooked vegetables in a large bowl and pour the hot chicken stock over them.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Add the scallions, toss the couscous and vegetables with a fork, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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