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Monday, March 14, 2011

Moroccean-Style Chickpeas and Couscous

I remember the first time I heard of couscous. It was several months before Ron and I moved to Minnesota. We were still stuck in our chain-restaurant phase and dinner at TGIFriday's was a date. My boss at the time, a lovely Professor in Anthropology and respected Dean, had suggested that we try this cute little cafe in Bloomfield. So, Ron and I went. It was completely different from any place we had ever been before. It was quaint, a tiny little cafe, and had a definite "hippie" vibe. Most of the food was vegetarian or vegan (you can imagine the look on Ron's face) but we were open to change (at least I was). When the waitress came to take our order, she asked what side we wanted. Ron inquired about the sides and she answered. They consisted of fresh fruit, mixed greens, or a couscous salad. "Goo goo?" Ron responded. "What is goo goo?" The waitress kindly smiled and replied, "couscous?  It's a type of grain. After she left, we both started laughing. "Goo goo? Where have you taken me?" I can't recall the side that Ron ended up getting but little did Ron know then that I would be taking us to random little restaurants and cafe's similar to that one from that day forward. Chain restaurants became a thing of the past and vegetarian influenced meals and fresh ingredients began to dominate our kitchen. And "goo goo" would become a staple in our house.

I love using couscous and I make it several times I week. I absolutely love its earthy, nutty texture and the nutritional value to boot. It is so versatile. You can mix it with anything and basically come out with something delicious! I must admit that I often turn to the "western supermarket version" (aka quick cooking) couscous, but I have enjoyed the "real deal" in the past (YUM!!). Here is a delicious recipe for moroccan-style chickpeas for a Meatless Monday meal.
Moroccan-Style Chickpeas with Couscous
from Delicious Living
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger, or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with juices
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat couscous
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt, optional
Instructions
  1. Place a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp oil; once hot, add onion and next 6 ingredients (through cayenne). Saute 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions soften. If spices stick to pan, deglaze with a little water. Add celery and cauliflower; cook 3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add chickpeas and stir. Add tomatoes, chili paste, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in parsley during last minute of cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare couscous. Bring 2 cups water to a bowl. Stir in couscous, 1 Tbsp oil, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Stir in raisins.
  3. Remove chickpea mixture from heat and stir in cilantro and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over couscous with a dollop of yogurt.

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