One of the best things about cooking is the bond it creates between people. People who love food love to talk about food and it makes for an instant connection. I was humbled this week by the remarks from a potential employer (I was interviewing for the job), who said to me in so many words ‘I really like that you cook. It tells me you’re nurturing, dedicated, and creative.’ A passionate cook himself, the next few minutes passed quickly swapping recommendations for food writers, cookbooks and the like. Hopefully he found some of my other talents equally impressive.
In any case, I found it quite gratifying to realize this mutual respect that cooks share. We are nurturing. We cook not only because we love food but because we love those who we share it with. We take great pride in our culinary confections. We are fearless in experimenting with strange ingredients and new techniques, stubborn and relentless until they’re perfected. We are sponges for food knowledge, never complacent, feasting on the sheer joy that cooking brings us. In short, we are pretty cool.
Which brings us to the point in the post where I’d normally segue my babble into something pertaining to today’s recipe. But sometimes, you got nothin’. So – green couscous! Did you know I’ve been misspelling couscous my whole life? I thought it was two words, as in ‘cous cous’. Something about each of those cous’s strung together like that makes me giggle. Probably just me.
This recipe is really fantastic. A fresh herb puree is stirred into cooked couscous (tee-hee) which is then tossed with toasted pistachios, baby arugula (my current favorite salad green) and crumbled feta. Add simply grilled chicken, seared fish or broiled lamb skewers and you have the loveliest early spring dinner. Swap out whichever herbs, nuts and cheese you have on hand to make this your own. It’s another Ottolenghi Plenty recipe that won’t disappoint!
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock or water
- 2 small-medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 Tbs chopped tarragon
- 2 Tbs chopped dill
- 2 Tbs chopped mint
- 6 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups (loosely packed) baby arugula
- 3-4 oz feta, crumbled
1. Caramelize the onions: Add onions plus 1 Tbs olive oil in saute pan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and completely soft, 45-60 minutes. Add salt and cumin and stir. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile make the herb paste: Place parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, mint and 6 Tbs olive oil in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
3. Bring stock (or water) to a boil. Add couscous with a pinch of salt, stir, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
4. Add herb paste to couscous and mix together using a fork to fluff it up. Add caramelized onion, pistachios, scallions, arugula, and feta and gently mix. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty