19 June, 2009

Tired of eating rice? Try couscous!


Three days ago, I prepared couscous for the first time and ate it for the second time in my life. Why, you may ask. Well, simply because the first time I had it, a Moroccan friend prepared it at a party, and he prepared it the traditional way, cooking it for a long time (steaming, sorry) over a pot of meat and vegetables stew in that special pot. I thought that was the only way to prepare it, till I learned (very recently), that precooked couscous existed and that it was actually easy to prepare. And, yeah, I wanted to make it. I made it yesterday for dinner, but a kind of salad style as a side to some grilled chicken breasts.
And today I did some research to learn more about couscous and answer my husband's question: "What exactly is couscous?" To be honest, I thought it was simply a kind of grain, resembling semolina. Instead it's actually pasta, made with semolina, flour, salt and water. Like grains, such as rice, couscous tends to take on the flavor of whatever sauce or other ingredients it is prepared with. In fact, it is often used to substitute rice. Couscous is a low-fat complex carbohydrate, meaning it does not produce rapid spikes in blood sugar.
I've got several more recipes for couscous in summer clothes to try, mostly with vegetables. Have you tried it yet? What's your favourite way of cooking it?



TOMATO AND CUCUMBER COUSCOUS WITH LEMON AND MINT
and LEMON AND BASIL MARINATED CHICKEN BREASTS

250 g of precooked couscous
250 ml vegetable broth ( I followed the instructions on the package, but I think it should be a little bit more than 1/4 litre)
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tblspoons of butter
1 lemon
salt, pepper
200 g of cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber
4 spring onions (mine was so big that 1 was just enough)
parsley and mint

for chicken:
boneless and skinless chicken breast
salt and/or other poultry seasoning that you like
fresh or dry basil leaves
lemon juice

I cooked couscous according to the instructions on the package. I placeced it in a bowl, added 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mixed well with a fork.

Then I poured it in a saucepan with boiling vegetable broth. I stirred it well and let rest covered for 2 minutes. Then I added 2 tblspoons of butter, and cooked, constantly stirring with a fork for 3 more minutes, and finally let it rest and cool down covered, for 10-15 minutes.

Wash the tomatoes and dice them, peel the cucumber and slice it, slice the onion(s) very thinly.

Season the couscous with the rest of oil and lemon juice, add the vegetables and finely minced parsley and mint (I added about a tablespoon of fresh herbs). Mix well, cover and leave in the fridge for 1 hour before serving. Add salt and pepper to your taste and serve.
I felt it a bit too dry, however and added some Balsamic vinegar to my plate, which I found a great addition.

Now, the chicken. While my couscous was resting in the fridge, I cut the chicken breasts very thin, seasoned them with salt and a bit of poultry seasoning. I minced a handfull of basil leaves with my mezzaluna, mixed it with two tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil and the juice from half a lemon. I placed the chicken in a ziplock freezer bag, poured in the marinade, shook it well to coat the chicken evenly, and let it reast in the fridge for 45 minutes.

Then I grilled it in a grilling pan on my stove and served with couscous. I'd call that a healthy meal, and I didn't even need a cookbook to tell me that. What do you think?

CUSCUS CON POMODORINI E CETRIOLO
e PETTO DI POLLO MARINATO CON LIMONE E BASILICO

Cuscus è un alimento tipico del Nordafrica, in realtà è un tipo di pasta preparata con la semola di grano duro, farina, sale e acqua. Spesso si usa per sostituire il riso nelle classice insalate di riso, ma tipicamente viene servito con la carne o pesce e verdure. Per fortuna, cuscus si trova nei supermercati già precotto, che facilita molto la preparazione.

Ingredienti:

250 g di cuscus precotto
250 ml di brodo vegetale (secondo me ci voleva un po' di piu, ma ho seguito le istruzioni sulla confezione)
1 limone
1/2 bichiere di olio extra vergine
2 cucchiai di burro
una manciata di foglie di prezzemolo e menta trittate
200 g di pomodorini ciliegia
1 cetriolo
4 cipollotti (ho messo solo uno perché molto grande)
sale, pepe

petto di pollo
succo di mezzo limone
2 cucchiai di olio
una manciata di foglie di basilico
sale

Ho preparato il cuscus secondo le istruzioni sulla confezione. Prima l'ho mischiato in un contenitore con 3 cucchiai di olio, sgranandolo con una forchetta. Poi l'ho versato nel brodo bollente, e lasciato riposare per 2 minuti coperto, a fiamma spenta. Ho aggiunto il burro e l'ho fatto cuocere di nuovo per 3 minuti a fuoco lento, sgranando continuamente con una forchetta. L'ho lasciato riposare e raffreddare coperto per 10-15 minuti.
Ho lavato e tagliato a pezzetti i pomodorini, ho pulito e tagliato a rondelle il cetriolo e il cipollotto.
Ho condito il cuscus con il resto dell'olio e succo di limone, ho aggiunto le verdure e prezzemolo e menta tritati e l'ho lasciato riposare nel frigo per un'ora. Prima di servire potete regolare di sale e pepe.

Ho tagliato il petto di pollo a fettine sottili. L'ho condito con il sale. Ho preparato la marinata con 2 cucchiai di olio extra vergine, basilico tritato e succo di mezzo limone. Ho messo la carne in una bustina da freezer, ho versato dentro la marinata, scuotendo bene per ricoprire la carne in maniera uniforme. L'ho lasciato riposare 45 minuti nel frigo, e poi l'ho grigliato sulla piastra e servito con il cuscus.
Vi piace come idea per un pasto completo e leggero?



SALATA OD COUSCOUSA, RAJČICA I KRASTAVACA
i PILEĆA PRSA MARINIRANA S LIMUNOM I BOSILJKOM

Couscous je namirnica tipična za Sjevernu Afriku. Premda izgleda poput žitarice, zapravo je to vrsta tjestenine pripremljena od pšenične krupice i vode.
Tradicionalno se poslužuje uz meso ili ribu (neka vrsta gulaša ili paprikaša) i povrće. Ali se često koristi i kao zamjena za rižu.
U prodaji se danas može naći couscous koji je već djelomično kuhan, tako da je vrijeme pripreme otprilike 15 minuta.

250 g couscousa
1/2 čaše ulja
2 žlice maslaca
1 limun
1-2 žlice sitno narezanog lista peršina i limuna
200 g malih rajčica
1 krastavac
4 mlada luka

Pripremila sam prvo 250 g couscousa prema uputama na omotu. Prvo sam ga u zdjeli pomiješala s 3 žlice maslinovog ulja. Potom sam ga sipala u vrelu juhu od povrća (može i voda, ali je ukusniji kuhan u juhi), i ostavila da odmara 2 minute. Potom sam dodala 2 žlice maslaca i miješajući vilicom kuhala 3 minute. Na kraju sam ga ostavila da odmara, pokriven, 10-15 minuta.
Narezala sam rajčice na kockice, krastavac i mladi luk na ploške.
Začinila sam couscous sokom od 1 limuna i ostatkom ulja, dodala povrće, i 1-2 žlice sitno narezanog lista peršuna i mente. Ostavila sam u hladnjaku 1 sat i potom poslužila s piletinom.

Pileća prsa
1/2 limuna
list bosiljka
maslinovo ulje

Pileća prsa sam izrezala na tanke šnicle, posolila i povegetila. Pripremila sam marinadu od 2 žlice maslinovog ulja, 1 žlicu sitno narezanog lista bosiljka i sokom od pola limuna. Stavila sam meso u plastičnu vrećicu za zamrzivač, usula marinadu, dobro protresla, i ostavila u hladnjaku oko 45 minuta, a potom ispekla u gril tavi.

13 comments:

  1. that looks great and all that color just makes you want more! I've tried it a couple of times but nothing like that. I should add veggies to it. Maybe I'd like it better :)

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  2. Couscous is one of those things I didn't like as a kid but haven't had in 15 years or so. I've been meaning to try it again, it seems like it would be good. Your recipe looks great! :)

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  3. yummy, I adore cous cous great meal I often eat with salmon lol

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  4. I love couscous! So quick and easy!

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  5. Che bella questa insalata ! Io in genere lo mangio con delle verdure stufate ! Ma come fai a scrivere ogni volta tre posts ? Sei fantastica !!

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  6. *Danielle and Bob, I decided not to make it traditional way but rather as a salad, in this way you can add anything you like (grilled zucchini and peppers, for example, boiled green beens and potatoes, tuna fish, whatever you like, and create something new every time.
    *Rebecca, my husband doesn't like salmon, but I'm sure it'd be a great meal
    *Finsmom, absolutely, easy and fresh, and most of all you can prepare it ahead
    *Natalia, è un bel lavoro, ma ho preso un'impegno con i miei amici e parenti, e per soddisfare tutti, scrivo tre post in uno (
    *grazie, Pasquy

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  7. I've been making couscous for years - it's one of my favourite side dishes to make. I do one with caramelized onions and goat cheese that's heavenly.

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  8. Cathy, that does sound extremely delicious

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  9. I also looove couscous. When you say in "summer clothes" do you mean light dishes? That's really cute!

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  10. That's exactly what I had in mind, more salad style, like pasta salads, made with fresh or grilled veggies, as compared to stuffed meat and vegetables. Also eaten cold, fresh as compared to eaten warm.

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  11. I've only had couscous a few times before. I should really make it more often. This looks great!

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  12. I love the versatility of couscous...not sure of a favorite way to cook it, yet. Every way has been my favorite so far.

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