Couscous with Vegetables (version II)

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1-1/4 pounds couscous grains
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ginger
freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 fresh red chiles
4 medium carrots, peeled, cut into quarters lengthwise, then across into 2-inch lengths
4 zucchini, cut into batons like the carrots
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered
1-1/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
Harissa Sauce

Couscous is made from fine durum wheat combined with salt and water and formed into tiny pellets. It is available at most good health food stores and supermarkets. This version gives directions for using the long-cooking couscous, but you may also substitute the instant variety, which takes only 5 minutes to prepare. If using the long-cooking variety, cover the couscous with cold water, stir with your fingers and drain. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Repeat this process and again let stand while heating 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes until softened but not brown. Add the salt, cumin, ginger, pepper, bay leaf and tomato paste and stir well. Add the whole chiles, carrots, zucchini and tomatoes and just enough water to cover. Slowly bring to a boil.

Place the swollen couscous in a colander or steamer lined with a fine dish towel (floursack type) which will fit snugly into the top of the pan. Position the colander to steam over the vegetables (the couscous grains should not touch the liquid), cover and simmer gently for about 40 minutes.

Halfway through the cooking, add the rest of the olive oil to the couscous and add the potatoes to the vegetables. Fluff the couscous occasionally with a fork during cooking. Prepare the harissa sauce. To serve, pile the fluffy couscous onto a large platter. Make a well in the center and pile the vegetables in it. Spoon over the juices from the vegetables and serve immediately with harissa sauce.

Servings: 6

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