couscous with carrots and golden raisins

Couscous is a blank canvas.  You can paint it with whatever flavor palate you choose:  savory, hot and spicy, warm and mellow, sweet, salty, or pretty much anything you can imagine.  This is one of the many ways I prepare couscous, and probably one of my favorites.  I love the combination of flavors: warm spices combine beautifully with the sweetness of the carrots and golden raisins.  It’s a super easy way to dress up couscous for entertaining or a holiday meal.  It’s also good cold the next day.  Enjoy!

Couscous with Carrots and Golden Raisins

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced about 1/4-inch thick (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous

Directions:

Put the carrots olive oil, butter, salt, cinnamon, ginger, in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the water and raisins to the carrots and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, pull the saucepan off the heat, cover, and set aside until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is plump and tender (about 10 minutes).

Fluff couscous with a fork and serve.

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Cook’s Notes:  This makes a ton of couscous, so feed a crowd or count on leftovers if you don’t reduce the recipe.

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couscous chicken salad

I made a salad the other night that was, well….how can I say this? It was damn near inedible. Actually, that’s probably too strong a word. It was not good! Thankfully, it was a side dish so the bulk of the meal redeemed my cooking cred.  But I ended up throwing away pretty much ALL of it (which is pathetic and shameful considering we packed meals at our local Feed My Starving Children site today and were reminded that 18,000 kids die every day from hunger related complications).  So, when I even remotely considered using leftover chicken for this salad, I had two thoughts:

1.  My husband will refuse to eat another salad (this time posing as the entree), based on our negative experience only a few days before and I’ll end up wasting more food; and,

2.  My husband will refuse to eat yet another “meal” wrapped in lettuce!

It’s not the manliest of dinners.  It’s got grains and veggies and poultry and fruit.  And it’s not even really wrapped in lettuce (decidedly unmanly Bibb lettuce, of all things), it’s served ON the lettuce; the likes of which you might enjoy at a baby shower or at lunch with your best girlfriend.

The one thing this recipe had going for it, though, was the fact my mom had given it to me.  My mom was a great cook.  She could readily recognize a sub-par recipe by simply scanning the ingredient list.  She always showed up at my house with her carry-on bag stuffed with recipe clippings she’d culled from various newspapers and magazines.  I knew my mom wouldn’t let me down!

This recipe is good.  Really good.  It’s light, delicious, and full of great textures and a huge variety of flavors; tart, crunchy, earthy, tangy, just plain good.   Yes, it’s perfect for a summer lunch with friends, but when you live in the desert, light and delicious salads are just part of the rotation.  My husband did not refuse to eat it.  He ate, gave me a two-thumbs-up, and then he ate some more.  At less than 300 calories per serving, that’s ok.  Dig in and enjoy!!

Couscous Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 C tri-color pearl couscous
  • I Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 C cooked, diced chicken
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large, Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
  • 1 large rib celery, diced
  • Bibb lettuce leaves

Directions:

In saucepan, bring stock to a boil.  Add couscous and butter.  Bring to a boil again, then simmer per package directions (8 to 10 minutes).  Remove from heat, fluff with fork and set aside to cool.

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, coriander, mustard, garlic and pepper.  Wisk until well mixed.  In large bowl, combine cooled couscous, chicken, onions, apple and celery.  Add olive oil mixture and toss to coat.  Serve over Bibb lettuce leaves.