Saturday, January 17, 2009

vegetarian couscous with a twist

With many North Africans living in France, a number of restaurants serving the traditional couscous opened all over back in the 70's.It was a novelty, a discovery of new spices,an opening of a new culinary frontier. I tasted my first couscous in a vegetarian restaurant and it was love at first bite. Something about the taste of turnips with garbanzos, a broth redolant of cumin, fennel and saffran, the smear of Harissa  paste on the side and the mellowness of the grain soaking up all the flavors.
It used to be a staple dinner at our house and I decided to bring it back after a missed absence. This time I substituted millet to the couscous since C is gluten intolerant. The key to this dish is to have enough flavorful broth to soak up  whichever grain you use. you need:
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
fennel seeds,  pinch of saffron, cumin, salt , pepper, dry thyme, 1 bay leaf
chicken broth ( Swanson Organic) 3 cups
a bunch of baby turnips
3 small carrots
2 cups of garbanzos ( I had soaked mine and cooked them  for one hour ), but use a can if you need
you can add zucchini if in season ( it is part of the traditional recipe)
1 tube of harissa( or your favorite spice paste)

saute the minced onion and garlic in some olive oil until caramelized
add the spices and cook for a minute, add the veggies and beans,let it cook for another minute, pour the broth and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft.
cook your grain separately. serve with harissa.