Katie’s Couscous

cous

Sorry for the long hiatus. Without getting into it, let’s just say life was hectic and exhausting for a few months. I’m back to normal now and have my head on straight (I think). I have a drawer full of recipes saved up so I’m going to make a commitment to post every couple days…I promise!

Today’s topic is couscous. I know you were expecting more from me after being inactive for so long but I assure you this recipe will not disappoint. It’s one of those dishes that you will find yourself snacking on for an entire week. The recipe makes enough for like 20 servings and it will stay fresh for up to 8 days if you keep it in an air tight container.

It’s sort of funny how this recipe came about. After living in Arlington, Virginia for three years I became absolutely obsessed with the Whole Foods there. I know what you’re thinking…she developed a strong personal attachment to a store that sells overpriced food? Weird. Well anyway it is MY store. MY stomping grounds…nobody mess with it! After being a DC resident for 2 months I was going crazy and I needed my Arlington Whole Foods fix so I made the 30 minute journey across the bridge. Upon arrival I discovered a sale on couscous AND couscous samples among other things. Inspiration! A recipe is born.

Just real quick on Arlington. It hasn’t even been that long but going back there now is like a confetti hitting a fan for me. I know it’s only what, a mile from DC, but it’s serious time travel whenever I pass through. Driving down Wilson Blvd, the Asian lady named Kim that has done my nails at least 50 times, the coffee at Northside Social. What about that mile long escalator at the Rosslyn metro stop that feels like it’s taking you to the pits of hell? Hah! And finally, the world’s worst shopping mall in Ballston…I love and hate that place at the same time. There are only two redeeming qualities for that establishment: The Chick-Fil-A and the ladies that do fantastic kiosk eyebrow threading for eight dollars. If it wasn’t for that– dynamite.

As corny as it sounds my three years there were really defining points in my life that I will never forget. A series of ups and downs, successes, failures and lessons learned. I refuse to wear anything but rose colored glasses when going back though. Whether its positive or negative I feel like things are always best the way I remember them. I find this sometimes comes in handy when I’m in a pissy mood, or you know, trying to figure out what to eat for dinner.

Now enough of me blabbing…ADD was kicking in. For those of you who are not familiar couscous, it is a popular staple in North African countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. If you know me or follow this blog you should be aware of my quinoa obsession. While similar in taste and texture, I’m sorry to report that it’s not as healthy. Couscous is not a whole grain, in fact, its closer to a pasta than anything else…it’s basically formed from semolina flour. In practically any dish that you see couscous, a grain such as quinoa, bulgur or barley could be easily replaced for added nutrients and fiber. But it’s almost winter and I just can’t be so earnest every night. I was missing my couscous when I tinkered with this recipe. You cannot deprive a girl of her carbs! I did however make sure to include some healthy-ish ingredients in this recipe. You can serve as a side salad or eat on its own. I hope you enjoy!

Even dogs love couscous
Even dogs love couscous

Ingredients

1 box of cooked couscous (according to package directions) ($3.00)
1 1/2 cups frozen, cooked edamame ($2.00)
3/4 cup canned, drained corn ($.75)
1 can garbanzo beans ($1.00)
2 green onions, chopped fine ($.25)
1/4 cup dried cranberries ($.50)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese ($.75)
1/4 cup pine nuts ($1.00)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar ($.20)
2 tablespoons honey ($.25)
Juice of 1 lemon ($.75)
1/4 cup olive oil (.50)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Total: $10.95

Directions:

Cook couscous according to package directions. Fluff and let cool for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl add cooled couscous, edamame, corn, garbanzo beans, green onions, cranberries, feta and pine nuts.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, lemon, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly. Chill in fridge at least 2 hours.

Mediterranean Brussels Sprouts

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If you hate Brussels Sprouts then I’m going to try and change your mind. As I mentioned in a previous post, Brussels Sprouts really got the worst PR of any veggie out there. They were always characterized as mushy, stinky green orbs that children all over the globe vehemently rejected. I too rejected the poor little guys until I was enlightened a few years ago at a trendy restaurant somewhere above the Mason Dixon line. Lately I’ve been seeing these guys fried into oblivion and smothered with some sort of shallot/ olive oil/ bacon/ salt mixture. While that sounds tasty I wanted to try something a little different that wouldn’t cost me more calories than a double cheeseburger.

I love mediterranean food, especially small plates and tapas where you can indulge in several little bites, all jam packed with flavor. This recipe incorprates the perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness and irresistible crunch. The combination of sweet figs and tart greek yogurt brings these sprouts head and shoulders above your childhood nightmare. I’m thinking these would be awesome for a tapas dinner party of sorts– hummus, lamb meatballs, zucchini fritters and of course plenty of wine. Sounds good right? Maybe I’ll have one just because! Friends, standby.  

Ingredients

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, stalks removed and cut in half ($2.50)
  • 1 tbs olive oil ($.10)
  • 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar ($.05)
  • 4 tbs lightly toasted walnuts, chopped ($.25)
  • 5 tbs sliced red seedless grapes ($.25)
  • 3/4 C light plain Greek yogurt ($.75)
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs minced mint ($.20)
  • 1/2 c fig jam ($1.50)
  • 1/4 c water

Total: $5.60

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 500

2. Toss sprouts with 1 tbs olive oil and place cut side down on baking pan. Roast 17 minutes or until crispy and cooked through

3. While sprouts are cooking blend fig jam and 1/4 c water in blender until smooth. Cook over medium heat in saucepan until reduced in half

4. Mix together yogurt, mint and salt. Set aside

5. When sprouts are finished, splash with sherry vinegar and mix until well combined

6. Put sprouts on serving dish and sprinkle on toasted walnuts and grapes. Using a fork, alternate equal drizzles of fig mixture and yogurt mixture. Be careful not to add too much as you can serve additional sauce on the side. Season with more salt to taste, if needed,

Creamy Broccolini

I’ve always been a fan of regular old broccoli and I usually stick with the same boring method– salt, pepper, drizzle of olive oil and bake. But my goodness have you tried broccolini? It’s amazing. I would describe it as a cross between regular broccoli and asparagus. It has florets that are a little smaller than regular broccoli and longer, thinner stalks. It’s also very high in Vitamin C– added bonus, right?

So anyway, I was thinking about ways to make a creamier, richer side that I could substitute in place of a starch all together. The answer is hummus.  It’s the perfect consistency and there are so many varieties out there that you can have a little fun experimenting. For this recipe I decided not to go too crazy and opted for a simple garlic hummus.

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Ingredients
  • 2 C broccolini ($3.00)
  • 4 TBS garlic hummus ($.50)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

TOTAL: $3.50

Instructions
  1. Rinse broccolini and cut off approx 1/2 inch of stems
  2. Boil water in medium size saucepan to steam. I use a metal vegetable steamer placed inside a saucepan of boiling water
  3. Cover and steam brocollini for 7 minutes (medium heat)
  4. Remove broccolini from steamer and toss with hummus
  5. Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice to taste

stove

Note: This side can be served hot or cold. I usually make a little extra for the fridge. It tastes great the next day!