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Fiesta Couscous

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Time: 30-45 minutes

Serves: 10-20 as a side dish

Inspired by: Tony Khalife, who taught me a great deal about putting unique flavors together. We tried this with all kinds of combinations of flavors and every time it turned out fantastic.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups of couscous works well for the below quantity of “fiesta” ingredients
  • Water (1 1/2 cups water per cup of couscous)
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced – keep the seeds (if you are sensitive to the oils, wear gloves)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup dried papaya (chopped to the size of the dried cranberries)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup slivered almonds (unsalted pistachios are great too)
  • 1-2 cups green peas thawed to room temperature

Preparation:

  • Fill a large pot with water – use 1 1/2 cup water to 1 cup couscous
  • Add a dash of olive oil and salt and bring to a boil
  • Add the couscous, stir and bring to a boil again, and then reduce heat to a very low simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes
  • In a separate large sauté pan, sauté olive oil, jalapeno and onion
  • When starting to brown, add bell pepper
  • When they get cooked fairly well – 5-10 minutes, add nuts and dried fruit and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Add the peas in the last few minutes so they get hot but not crushed and mushy
  • Mix the couscous and the “fiesta” mixture in a large glass bowl (don’t do it all at once – start with half of each to ensure you get to your desired consistency/mixture)
  • Add olive oil if it is too dry and needs moisture

Notes: This is good hot or at room temperature so it’s great for making early in the day for a party, or bringing to a potluck or as part of a picnic. It’s a perfect side dish to compliment a Mediterranean-themed meal, with perhaps hummus as a starter, curry chicken kabobs and Greek salad. I also make this recipe with quinoa instead of couscous on occasion because it’s healthier. Just replace the couscous with quinoa – use 1 1/4 cups of water for 1 cup of quinoa.

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