Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Butternut Squash Couscous

These days I'm usually searching for recipes based on the vegetables I have around to use up. I have pretty well-stocked cupboards so I usually don't have to buy much when I find a recipe I want to make (other than things like some fresh herbs), but I'm still delighted when I come across a recipe that looks delicious and uses up a lot of ingredients I already have on hand. Even though I'm constantly telling myself I need to use up what's already in the cabinets, I always ending finding at least an item or two I just can't live without on a grocery shopping trip, be it because there's a good sale or just because something looks really good. This great recipe used up a good amount of my remaining CSA produce, as well as making a bit of space in my cabinets, and all I had to do pick up was some fresh parsley.

This dish is filling, but not dense, the wonderful homey kind of food that is perfect for a cold winter night but also makes great leftovers for lunch for the next day (or two). Although a mild dish overall, the flavors are complex and complementary and the wonderful perfume of the cinnamon comes through. After eating far too much dense and unhealthy food over Christmas, it was nice to have a healthy, filling meal packed full of the whole grains and vegetables that got neglected over the holiday. Although I'm definitely not one to diet over the holidays (or at all), I will say that I feel much better when I eat healthfully, and this dish was a great way to get back on track.

Butternut Squash Couscous
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
One 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 cups low-sodium canned vegetable or chicken broth or homemade stock
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous

1. In a small frying pan toast the almonds over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Or, toast them in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, nutmeg, and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes, squash, raisins, broth, and 1 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the chickpeas and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes more. Stir in the parsley.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve the stew over the couscous and top with the toasted almonds.

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