The way that I describe this dish, is a middle eastern version of fried rice. It’s a great meal the throw together and one that you can experiment with spices that you don’t likely use in your daily cooking. The original recipe calls for a steaming method of cooking, which is the traditional method. I neglected to read the directions before I started the recipe and didn’t think we even owned a steamer! Well, after I completely revamped the entire cooking method, I realized that we DO have a steamer so I guess I’ll try that next time!
Couscous is very low in fat, and has about the same in protein, fiber and carbs as quinoa. Quinoa beats couscous in the mineral content, but couscous packs an amazing 87% of your daily suggested intake. About 55mcg is suggested daily and couscous has 43mcg per once cup serving. Selenium has antioxidant properties, can help the body regulate the thyroid hormones, support a healthy immune system, and aid in metabolism. One of selenium’s most important roles is as an antioxidant helping to prevent cell damage due to free radicals. (Sources: WebMD and Eating Well)
One VERY important thing that I did not note, until I’d already washed and set aside four cups of couscous, is the water to couscous ratio in this recipe. Much like rice or quinoa, there is a two to one ratio for water to couscous. Now, this recipe called for 4 cups of dry couscous. Four cups of dry couscous is quite a large portion, borderline obscene actually. I only realized this fact at the very moment where I was pouring the 8 cups of water and 4 cups of couscous into my stove top pan and it was nearly brimming over. And, I hadn’t event started it boiling yet! My denial for the amount of couscous I was in the middle of making could no longer be indulged and I pulled out the large stock pot and transferred my absurd amount of couscous into the larger pot. While there was much more couscous than I would normally cook, about 9 servings worth, the ratio of the other ingredients worked perfectly. The only thing I would change is to maybe try cutting the couscous by half.
To serve, mix the roasted zucchini and butternut squash, chickpeas, raisins and sautéed onion together in a bowl and add a little more chopped parsley. (Typically, chickpeas from a can are already cooked but double-check.) Add in the couscous and stir well. The couscous will be a little gummy which is possibly due to my cooking method and not steaming it as directed. Garnish with more fresh parsley if you wish. You can also add grilled chicken or tofu to this if you want more protein like I usually do.
Yield: 9 cups of couscous + a good amount of veggies for 4 people
Recipe and method adapted from the recipe on Canadian Living
*Note: Due to preference and feeding two people versus 6, I suggest cutting the couscous, chicken stock and water in half. If you LOVE couscous or have a lot of people to feed, keep the recipe as is!
1 1/2 lb (one medium large) butternut squash, peeled and chopped in 2 inch cubed
2 large zucchini, sliced into 2 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups ( 1 15 oz can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 c chicken bullion paste for chicken stock
8 cups water
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 cups Israeli couscous ( I only had 3 cups, so I added one cup of the golden small couscous
additional parsley to garnish
Wash and chop the zucchini and butternut squash. Don’t forget to de-seed the squash. Lay out on aluminum foil on a baking sheet and roast at 450 for 30-45 minutes. Turning every 10 -15 min. Wash the couscous and set aside.
Chop the onion and fry it on the stove with some olive oil in a large stock pot. Set aside in a large bowl which you’ll use to mix up the rest of the ingredients. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the bowl, along with the raisins and some more parsley (to taste). Add the zucchini and butternut squash to this bowl once they’re browned on all sides.
Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in the large stock pot you used for the onions. Stir in the 1/4 cup of bullion, parsley, ginger, pepper, salt, and turmeric. Let boil together for a few minutes. Add the couscous and let it come back to a boil. Be sure to stir it all up every few minutes. Cook until the couscous soaks up the broth and get’s to a consistency you like.
Add the couscous to your large bowl with the onions, raisins and chickpeas, zucchini and butternut squash and stir. Garnish with additional parsley if you wish.
Tonight we’re eating this with some delicious bone in pork chops that are currently brining, but you can serve with grilled chicken, boiled eggs, firm tofu, or grilled steak. The options are endless!