Friday, September 21, 2012

Green Couscous

I'm a big fan of herb(s).

Not the kind you smoke, silly... the kind you eat.  Then again you can eat the stuff when simmered in butter and incorporated into a bake good, but that's not where I'm going here.

Last time I smoked herb there was lawn gnomes, midgets and Begali tigers involved.

Let's just say that I haven't touched the stuff since that day. No explanation needed.

Fresh herbs, on the other hand, are a whole different story.

I like to keep a variety of different herbs on hand, depending on the season.  Fresh basil in the summer can be tossed with pasta or tomatoes or even muddled with some cucumber and gin for a refreshing beverage.  Sage, thyme and rosemary are great to have in the winter and fall. Add a couple sprigs to soups, roasted vegetables, or even baked goods.  Dill, parsely and cilantro are great any time of the year.  Throw a handful of chopped herbs into a green or grain based salad, mix into goat cheese, sprinkle some on scrambled eggs, or make one of my favorite condiments, chimmichuri.

Added bonus: Fresh herbs are sooo good for you!

Dill is a very good source of calcium, fiber, iron and magnesium and has the ability to prevent bacterial overgrowth.
Cilantro is a powerful anti-inflammatory, promotes healthy liver function, boosts immunity, acts as an overall digestive aid and is high in antioxidants.
Parsley is high in vitamin C, folic acid and beta carotene.  It helps boosts immunity and helps to neutralize carcinogens in the body and can inhibit the formation of tumors.

Not too bad for something that's typically used as a garnish.

As much as I love having fresh herbs on hand, I usually only use a handful here and there often times have a difficult time using them up before they are past their prime. 

I was tickled pink when I came across a recipe that would save all of the herbs in my refrigerator that were on their way out if I didn't use them asap. Couscous is tossed with a mixture of fresh dill, cilantro, parsley and extra virgin olive oil.  The addition of some sauteed red onion, toasted pistachios, and baby arugula turn this into a delicious lunch or light dinner.

Green Couscous
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
serves 4

1 c. couscous
1 c. vegetable stock
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. ground cumin

Herb Paste:
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 c. chopped cilantro
1/3 c. chopped dill
4 T. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c. toasted salted pistachios
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 c. baby arugula

In a small saucepan, bring the stock to a boil.  Add the couscous, cover and remove from the heat.  Let sit for ten minutes, then transfer to a large bowl and fluff couscous with a fork.
Meanwhile, fry the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until golden and completely soft.  Add the salt and cumin and mix well. Leave to cool slightly
To make the herb paste, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
Add the herb past to the couscous and mix everything together well with a fork to fluff it up. Now add the cooked onion, the pistachios, scallion and arugula and gently mix. Season with extra salt and/or cumin if needed.
Serve at room temperature.

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