Versatile food – Couscous

I love cooking with couscous. However, a lot of people don’t cook with it regularly. Most people probably serve it plain and use it to soak up sauce as an alternative to rice or pasta. It can be intimidating because it’s hard to categorize – is it a type of rice or a type of pasta? To make things more complicated, there are many different kinds of couscous – Moroccan (small), Israeli (mid-sized), and Lebanese (the largest). I generally cook with the smaller variety, which is also the easiest to find in the grocery store and the easiest, most quick cooking.

One of the things that’s so wonderful about couscous is the fact that you can flavor it with almost anything and it’s so EASY to cook with. It’s a great quick side dish to whip up for a party or to serve along side a main dish on a hectic week night.  It’s an extremely versatile food.

We had dinner plans with friends and were asked to bring a side dish. Naturally, the week was super hectic and I didn’t have time to come up with a fancy side. So, after some brainstorming, I decided that couscous was the best way to go. There are SO many ways to flavor couscous, and I couldn’t decide on just one. So, I made two varieties. Here’s how I did it:

Curried couscous with cranberries and pine nuts

Ingredients:

1 box of plain couscous (I used the Near East quick cooking couscous – the stuff cooks in 5 minutes!)

the juice of one lemon

half a medium red onion chopped (or 1 small red onion chopped)

1/4 cup pine nuts toasted

1 tsp curry powder

3/4 cup of cranberries

3/4 cup of feta crumbled

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Cook the entire box of couscous according to the box directions (add the olive oil and salt according to what the package recommends). Once couscous is finished cooking, stir in the rest of the ingredients. Mix until everything is incorporated. You may add more of anything you like. Making couscous is not a science – a lot of it should be measured according to your own taste.

Greek style couscous

This couscous actually incorporates a number of  ingredients from the curried couscous. So, it was easy to make two varieties that night.

Ingredients:

1 box plain couscous

3/4 cup feta crumbled

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

6-8 scallions chopped into small pieces(use both white and green parts)

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (I used the ones packed in oil for additional flavor)

the juice of one lemon

3/4 cup canned artichokes coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Cook the couscous according to the package directions (the salt and olive oild should be used according to the package directions). Then, add in the other ingredients. Mix until combined.

See? Easy Peasy.

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