Summer is the time for experimenting in the kitchen because most of us whittle down our responsibilities to a fraction of what they were during the school year. If you just moved into your new apartment or are struggling to adjust to a frat kitchen, this is a great recipe to break in some of your new equipment and make your roommates jealous.
This couscous is infinitely adaptable to your taste, but you’ll definitely want an incredibly flavorful broth to cook your grains in, a searing umami and a biting acid. For a vegetarian version of this, you can add dried mushrooms to the broth or sear up some portobello mushrooms just like we do the sausage. For an even meatier version, switch to chicken broth and throw in some nicely browned spiced lamb minced meat.
This is an especially great recipe for those of us who need to pack lunches for long days at the office or library because not only does it heat up amazingly, but it also tastes great cold!
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed (can be substituted with ¼ teaspoon ground)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed (can be substituted with ¼ teaspoon ground)
1 link cured sausage, sliced into dimes
4 sprigs of thyme, one left whole and three stripped and leaves roughly chopped
¼ cup onion, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
¼ inch slice of ginger, finely minced
¼ tomato, diced
1 scallion, sliced
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Large pinch of turmeric
Large pinch of paprika
Small pinch cayenne
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
½ cup couscous
¾ cup of homemade (or store-bought if you’re a heathen) veggie stock
Couple squeezes of lemon juice
Other excellent additions or variations:
If you are one of those heretics who doesn’t like cilantro, use flat-leaf parsley.
Use minced lamb in place of sausage and simply don’t remove it to drain before adding onions and other aromatics.
Add a splash of lime juice or white wine vinegar instead of lemon.
Add grilled eggplant and zucchini seasoned with salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice.
The first thing you need to do is prepare all of your ingredients; this is called mise en place, which refers to putting everything in its place. Finely mince your garlic, ginger and onion (I know I chunked my garlic and ginger in the photo, but I regretted it completely and would heavily advise you to finely mince yours); roughly chop your thyme and cilantro; slice up your scallion — reserving the green tops for garnish — and sausage; and dice up your tomatoes.
After everything is set and in their place (see my delicious-looking cutting board), put a dry pan over medium-high heat and throw in your whole coriander and cumin seeds. I can’t recommend getting whole spices enough — dry-toasting whole coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, etc., adds a new dimension to vegetable dishes and meat dishes alike. It’s such a cheap and healthy way to add amazing flavor and depth to dishes that could otherwise fall flat.
The spices will take about 2 to 3 minutes to toast, but make sure you keep tossing the seeds around to get an even color. When they’re done and you can smell their toasty goodness, pour them into a bowl and drizzle a little olive oil into the pan.
Brown your sausage on each side and place them on a paper towel to drain.
Toss your onion, garlic, ginger, chopped thyme, thyme sprig, bay leaf, toasted cumin and coriander, scallion, turmeric, cayenne and paprika into the pan over medium heat. Sauté with a wooden spoon until golden and smelling like heaven, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour your dry couscous into the pan to toast for about 2 minutes.
While the onions and such are sizzling, heat your ¾ cup of veggie stock in a saucepan until it’s bubbling.
Dump your toasted-couscous-and-onion mixture into the stock and cover. Let the couscous steam for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Add in the diced tomato, sausage, green scallion bits and chopped cilantro and enjoy!
Contact Sasha Ashall at [email protected].