It’s very tempting when you’re on a (mostly) vegetarian diet to eat pasta every night when life gets busy. It’s easy, you don’t need to think about recipes much, and everybody knows it’s delicious – not to mention cheap! Unfortunately, my backside thinks this is a bad plan, and protests by not fitting into my favorite jeans if I indulge too often.
Couscous may be made out of grain but as far as carbs go it’s a healthier choice than pasta. It is much lower on the glycemic index than pasta and higher in vitamins. Still cheap. Still quick to make. And still tasty, although I don’t tend to smother it in butter or creamy sauce (which just makes it even more healthy in comparison to pasta). It’s not as much of a comfort food for me, but that’s okay. If you ate comfort food every night, it wouldn’t be as comforting.
As far as quickie meals go, couscous is about as fast and easy as it gets. To prepare, you just put it in a bowl and pour boiling water (or other liquid) over it, cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes or so. Fluff it up with a fork and use it in whatever you want. This was a new recipe we tried this week, definitely filling enough to be a main dish, but would work well as a side dish too. And since there is nothing in it that will go bad at room temperature, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up at a few potlucks this summer. We ate this with a green salad and fruit for dinner, then used the leftovers in sandwich wraps for lunch the next day.
Lemony Couscous With Chickpeas
(from Moosewood Restaurant, Simple Suppers)
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped black olives
2 tbsp. fresh dill, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped (the recipe called for toasted almonds, but cashews is what I had and they were delicious in this)
Put the couscous and salt in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, zest and juice both lemons and put it all in a large bowl, along with the olive oil. Add couscous, chickpeas, olives and herbs and toss well. Add more salt if needed. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Top with chopped nuts right before serving.
Lemony Couscous Wraps
Roasted garlic hummus (or any flavor)
Spinach wraps or tortillas
Spread hummus on the wrap, top with about a 1/2 cup of couscous and sliced cucumbers. Wrap up and eat!