When I first discovered Bob Red Mill’s new line of whole wheat pearl couscous at the BlogHer Food Conference in Atlanta, I was instantly hooked by the nutty flavor. I even smuggled a few sample bags back to San Francisco, and couldn’t wait to play around with the wholesome, round bites of pasta. Except that I actually did wait quite a bit – two entire months – before finding the perfect opportunity to use these precious samples.
The opportunity came in the form of an orzo salad recipe I came across while flipping through Heidi Swanson’s superb cookbook, Super Natural Every Day). I decided to substitute the whole wheat pearl couscous for the orzo to add some wholesomeness while keeping the bite of a small, salad-friendly pasta.
But the combination of a broccoli pesto with broccoli florets, avocado and crunchy nuts were what initially drew me to the recipe. I’ve been known to easily polish off several cups of broccoli – raw, steamed, sauteed, or roasted. Yet I had never tried a broccoli pesto. Clearly, the time was nigh.
Consider this an ode to the other squash. The quickly forgotten summer squash, often left behind at this time of year as people, including me, find themselves lured toward the oranger, more festive squashes of autumn. But these bright green and yellow varieties want you to know that they, too, can make delicious fall and winter food fare.
Unlike the dishes of summers past, where these bright baby squash were grilled, sauteed or roasted with salt, pepper, a little butter, and a sprinkling of lemon juice, this summer squash gratin is anything but summery. It’s hearty, rich, and creamy, but, despite the cream sauce, it doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down. (more…)
When it comes to food, I’ve always preferred the stuffed over non-stuffed. Not that Dover sole served over lemon-caper-garlic couscous wouldn’t still be delicious. But Dover sole stuffed with couscous? Way more fun to make, serve, and eat. Bonus: it ensures a little couscous makes it into each lemony bite of flaky fish.
I first became aware of this rolled-and-stuffed preference as a kid during our seemingly (but probably not actually) once-weekendly dinners of grilled steak, potatoes, and vegetable something-or-another. Up until that point, I was just as militant about keeping different foods separated on my plate as I was about making sure that my tucked-in shirt (I was a kid; tucked-in was trendy back then, I swear) created absolutely no lumps or bumps in my pants.
One day, while my attention was focused elsewhere, steak wandered over to fraternize with the mashed potatoes. And I wanted to cry probably shed at least a silent tear or two. But then I realized something: the mess on my place actually tasted good!
Then some salad joined the duo, and soon I was stuffing a little bit of everything into a hollowed out dinner roll. How magnificent – a taste of each part of the meal in every bite! Quite a few years later, some lucky friends of mine can tell you how much more enticing old favorites (e.g., cupcakes and pizza) become once stuffed (stay tuned) or rolled up.
And now, fish rolls. (more…)
Couscous: the food so nice, they named it twice! So I can only imagine how many times over they might have named it had they added a little cocoa powder. For those I almost lost on that cocoa powder suggestion, don’t worry – the cocoa flavor is on the back end , not up-front, in-your-face chocolate like these.
Rather, a bite tastes something like this: the tart-yet-sweetness of cherries, followed by a hint of bright citrus from the orange zest, balanced against the delicate buttery-nutty flavor of pistachios, and finally the subtle yet discernibly nutty chocolateyness of unsweetened cocoa-powder flavoring the couscous.
Beyond the interesting and delicious flavors involved, this dish has an amazing texture – from the chewiness of the cherries to the crunch of pistachios, to the spongy grains of couscous. (more…)