Thursday, November 18, 2004

Couscous Casablancaise

My parents flew into town in October and I had this couscous ready and waiting for them. They loved it. This recipe is "very simple, very easy" (as our friend Chef Tell used to say)--too easy to be a real couscous--but it's got lots and lots of flavor and is very satisfying. On cold and grey days like today, where the apartment never gets that afternoon sun we depend on in the late fall and winter, it really has a way of warming up the house (not to mention your weary bones).

6 cups water
8 saffron threads, crushed
1 tsp ground ginger
15 sprigs italian parsley
20 sprigs cilantro
2 tomatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
4 celery stalks, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small turnip, peeled and chopped
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2 inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch sticks
2 cups canned chick peas
salt and pepper
2 tbs butter
2 cups instant couscous
1/2 cup raisins

In a large soup pot over medium heat combine water, saffron, ginger, garlic, parsley, cilantro, tomatoes, celery, squash, carrots, and turnip. Cover and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 15-20 minutes. Reduce to simmer. Add chick peas. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups of broth from the soup pot and the butter. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat and add the couscous. Stir to blend. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer couscous to a large bowl. Fluff it with a fork to break up any lumps. Make a bed of couscous on a large serving platter. With a slotted spoon remove the vegetables from the broth arranging them on top of and around the couscous. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the hot broth and garnish with raisins. Serve immediately with extra hot broth and harissa (or some other kind of hot sauce) on the side.

Fried merguez sausage makes a fine addition to this couscous, if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where good merguez sausage is available. Montreal is definitely one of those places.

(adapted from a recipe in North Africa: the Vegetarian Table by Kitty Morse)



Anonymous said...

We can't buy merguez here down under but did enjoy the ones we bought at Jean Talon market 2 yrs ago :)

aj kinik said...

hi Sue,
well, you definitely don't need merguez for this recipe, it's just an added bonus if you happen to live somewhere where it's available