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Confession.  I have never (not once) used saffron in my cooking.  Yet, I love dishes that are prepared with it, such as seafood or rice or a creamy risotto.  Today I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks, Barefoot In Paris and prepared her Moroccan Couscous (page 158 for those that have it in their cookbook collection).  I just adore that book and makes me long for a trip to Paris and soon.

Interestingly, I tried to provide the link to her original recipe either from Food Network or from her Barefoot Contessa site, but both feature a recipe called “Moroccan Couscous,” however it’s an entirely different recipe.  Puzzling, but let’s press on.

To get started you’ll need to dice 2 cups of butternut squash and yellow onion.  And, dice 1 1/2 cups of carrots and zucchini.  It really goes much quicker than it sounds.  Aren’t the colors perfect for a chilly day in March?  Oh, don’t forget to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle 2 tsp of Kosher salt and 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper.  Just like yesterday’s post, you’ll need to mix this up with your hands and then spread the vegetables evenly onto your baking sheet.

Here are the diced vegetables coated in olive oil and seasoned with salt and black pepper before they go into the preheated oven.

I used a small dish to prep the seasonings that will go into the chicken broth.  You’ll need 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, 1/4 tsp of ground cumin and a 1/2 tsp of saffron.  The saffron threads were so delicate and whispy they didn’t want to leave the jar easily.

While the vegetables are roasting in the oven, bring 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth to a boil and turn off the heat.  Add 2 tbsp of unsalted butter to the saucepan.  Unfortunately I did not have any homemade stock in the freezer (though I’ve added it to my to-do list) and so I used canned broth.  I hope that doesn’t lower your opinion of me.

Add the saffron and other seasonings to the chicken stock and let it “steep” for at least 15 minutes.

While the chicken broth-saffron mixture is steeping, measure 1 1/2 cups of couscous into a large mixing bowl.  I chose to use whole wheat couscous, but use whatever you prefer or have available in your pantry.

After 30 minutes in the oven, I removed the baking sheet and of course, I could have made a meal just from the roasted vegetables.  The color was still vibrant and the chopped onions had become very sweet.

Add the roasted vegetables to the couscous.  Return the chicken broth back to a boil and then remove the saucepan from the heat.

Add the saffron-infused chicken broth to the vegetables and couscous.  That was my favorite part of the entire recipe.  The whispy saffron threads had plumped up just a bit and the fragrance from coming from the vegetable-broth mixture was wonderful.

Give the everything a very good stir because it’s critical (well critical may be too dramatic) or at least it’s a good idea to ensure that all of the couscous comes in contact with the hot broth, otherwise you may end up with some raw couscous.

Hmmm…I wonder why I know that.

Cover the bowl very tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Remove the plastic wrap and add 2 chopped scallions (white and green parts) and fluff the couscous and roasted vegetables with a fork.

Serve the couscous warm or at room temperature.  Tomorrow I think I’ll serve it on a bed of baby spinach for lunch with some Moroccan mint tea.

Recipe take from Barefoot In Paris, by Ina Garten

Moroccan Couscous

Ingredients

2 cups (3/4-inch) diced butternut squash

2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

1 1/2 cups (3/4-inch) diced zucchini (2 medium)

2 tbsp good olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups canned broth

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp saffron threads

1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous (10 ounces)

2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the butternut squash , onions, carrots, and zucchini on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper.  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and turn off the heat.  Add the butter, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, the cumin and saffron threads and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Bring the chicken stock just back to a boil.  Place the couscous and cooked vegetables in a large bowl and pour the hot chicken stock over them.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Add the scallions, toss the couscous and vegetables with a fork, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves: 6 to 8

Thanks for stopping by Main St. today,

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