Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Israeli Couscous and Sauteed Veggies

For anyone interested, I just made an epic, hot mess out of my kitchen. And it was totally worth it!
Having bought a slew of veggies at the farmers market (see previous post), I decided to utilize my rainbow chard, half of a big fat yellow tomato, a handful of yellow green beans, and about half of a beautiful zucchini grown in my mother's garden for some sort of a spectacular lunch for the next few days at work. Now, I'm not sure if what I've made is as spectacular as the vision I had in my head, but it's certainly hearty and pretty darn good for a 9 pm frenzy.
But what to add the veggies to? Well, I'll be dipped if I happen to have some awesome Israeli couscous from the Atlantic Spice Company in Truro, MA. With diced veggies throughout, this can only result in an easy and satisfying meal. Also note, if you're not feeling couscous, you could pretty much substitute any number of items for this meal... pasta, lentils, quinoa, whatever you think sounds good, and you have on hand.
So here was my step by step process:

1. Fill up a medium pot with water, throw in a cup of chicken broth and about a tablespoon of salt, and set it to boil. Once boiling, add your couscous, and boil until ready, i.e., keep tasting until the couscous has a tender consistency. You'll want to remove your couscous when it's tender, and I reserved my cooking liquid, immediately adding it back to the pot and keeping it at a simmer (you'll see why in step 3). You may also want to rinse the couscous with cold water to stop the cooking, because you know it's tender and you're going to be warming this up for lunch the next day (unless of course you're hard pressed to wait or are making this for the immediately approaching meal). Anyway, once your couscous is drained and ready, throw it into a large mixing bowl so that you can give everything a good mix after the veggies are ready.
2. While you're waiting for your liquid to boil, you can prep your veggies. Prep your chard by ripping the leaves from the stems, and give everything a rough chop. Dice the zucchini into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes. Cut the green beans into 1" bites.
3. Finished with the dicing? You can move onto simmering your chard. Add the leaves (not the stems) to the water/chicken broth mixture that you had been cooking the couscous in, and if you're feeling saucy, go for about a 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. This will probably need to cook for about ten minutes, chard being a pretty sturdy green, compared say to spinach. 
4. While the chard leaves are cooking, add a slosh of olive oil to a big saute pan on medium-low heat, and throw in your chard stems for about five minutes. Then add your zucchini, and about a minute later, your yellow green beans.  When everything is tender, but definitely not soggy, grab some tongs and remove your chard leaves from the simmering liquid and you can add them to the rest of your veggies. Give it a good mix. Add some salt, pepper, and I went for a little bit of Johnny's Seasoning Salt and this honey lime rub by the Garlic Gourmet Company from out in Washington state. 
5. Throw all your veggies into the mixing bowl with the couscous. Add a splash of lemon juice, additional salt and pepper to taste. Dice up the half of the big fat yellow tomato, and throw that in. And of course, since I'm of the opinion that almost any thing is improved with cheese, I went ahead and folded in about a half cup of grated Parmesan, and a little leftover ounce of crumbly blue cheese.  

Like I said, a big fat mess. But pretty darn awesome, fresh, and flavorful.

Ingredient Rundown:

1 bunch of rainbow chard
1 handful of yellow green beans
1/2 of a large zucchini (or one small one... or a squash... they'd all taste fantastic)
1/2 of a big fat tomato
1 1/2 cups of Israeli couscous
2 tablespoons of olive oil for sauteing the veggies
1 cup of chicken broth and 3 to 4 cups water for boiling couscous/simmering chard leaves
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Little bit of honey lime rub (or any other rub that will add a little spice/tang)
Splash of lemon juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Teeny bit of crumbly blue cheese

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