Friday, July 8, 2016

Couscous with Golden Raisins

I'm heading to Greece in August - something I continue to mention again and again because I'm just really excited - and I was wondering if I should put a pause on eating Mediterranean food knowing I'd be off to enjoy some genuine delicious fare but I thought, nah, because it's just too good and it's perfect for grilling.

So usually when we have falafel and chicken souvlaki, I usually make flatbread pita but on this occasion, I couldn't be bothered to knead dough or turn on the oven. So, I decided to make a fluffy couscous instead. I added in some chopped herbs and lemon and pine nuts for crunch and of course, a good handful of golden raisins, as the title of this post suggests.

The result was a gorgeous, fluffy couscous that was delicious and flavorful on its own but also made for a great neutral side dish to go alongside both falafel and chicken souvlaki (I couldn't choose which main I wanted to eat so I made both), some grilled eggplant, a pile of fresh crunchy bell pepper, pickled pepperoncini peppers, some feta, and of course, chunky tzatziki.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 tablespoons butter
¼ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups couscous
1½ cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped dill
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped toasted pine nuts

The couscous is really quick and easy and pretty low-maintenance. Start by heating a pot over medium heat and melting some butter. Toss in the onions and garlic and saute just until soft and then pour in the couscous. Stir to coat the couscous in the butter and let it cook until it's just lightly toasted. Pour in the stock, give it one good stir to get rid of lumps, and then reduce the heat to low and pop on a lid.
Cook for about 8 minutes or until the stock is completely absorbed.
While the couscous is cooking, prepare the seasonings. Grate some lemon zest, chop up the herbs and the pine nuts, and grab some raisins. Golden raisins work exceptionally well with couscous and with rice because they lend a subtle sweetness.
Grab the pot of cooked couscous, sprinkle in a little salt and pepper, pop in the herbs and lemon zest, squeeze in some lemon, drizzle in a little olive oil, and drop in the golden raisins and the toasted and chopped nuts.
Stir it all together and that's the couscous, done. Give it a taste and make sure the seasoning is up to snuff, of course.
And just for easy serving (and since the handle of the pot takes up too much real estate on our dining table) I transferred the couscous into a bowl.
Before the couscous was made, I marinated some chicken for the chicken souvlaki, I fried up some falafel, and grilled a few baby eggplant.
Look at this colorful spread! The couscous is fluffy and a bit lighter than rice but still gives me that carby comfort that I love. It's bright thanks to the lemon zest and juice, it's fresh because of the herbs, and it's got texture because of the raisins and nuts. It's just a delicious and festive side dish that is especially perfect in the summer. By the way, leftovers can be enjoyed warmed up or cold; both are good.
Here's the recipe page:

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