We are all so busy and often in a huge hurry and need a quick and easy side dish that can be adapted to any style of cuisine you are serving up. How does 5 minutes sound? Great for a big crowd or a dinner party and it goes with anything.
Couscous is Moroccan/North African semolina pasta. It is parboiled before being dried and that is why it takes such a short time to cook. It is the easiest side dish on the planet.
You can make it plain with water, or add broth for the liquid. You can add any number of ingredients or herbs /spices depending on what you feel like eating. Traditionally, nuts and dried fruits are added, along with some green onion. I’ve made it with cucumber, onion, tomato and sweet red pepper in the summer. Add a little basil or fresh mint; Yum.
Here’s the skinny on how to do it.
- Bring to a boil 1 ¼ cups of water (or broth, or ½ water ½ broth) with a tbsp. of butter or evoo, and a dash of salty. Turn off water.
- Put 1 cup of couscous in a bowl (or you can add it directly to the pan of water) and add the boiled liquid. Cover.
- Let sit covered for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Done.
If you are going to add other ingredients such as dried fruit or fresh veggies, add them to the dried couscous before the water. The heat will soften them and bring out their flavors. I have found when adding nuts – slivered almonds, pistachios, etc., it is best to add them after the couscous has had its 5 minute nap so they stay crunchy. I used scallion, golden raisins and pistachios in mine. Served it with a lamb chop and peas.
Couscous can be a great summer salad. After you cook it add crisp summer veggies, perhaps some shrimp and toss with a lemon vinaigrette (fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, evoo, salty & peppy). Truly a versatile dish. Enjoy.