Friday, December 16, 2011

Couscous with Mushroom & Green Squash

Truth be told, I dislike shopping however enjoy shopping for selective items - cooking supplies , pantry items and the works. My recent love has been shopping at Whole Foods. Whole Foods is a joint spread across US selling organic ingredients which are of highest quality and locally grown. Many years back, if anyone said they prefer organic foods to regular ones, I would guffaw and smirk for the obvious reasons. However after coming to US and tasting organic supplies, one can easily reason out and judge based on the taste and quality. Their spread of pantry items, grains, lentils, spices, herbs are of the finest quality and for a foodie - sheer joy to shop around!

Pearly white Couscous grains

Recently, a visit to the library warranted a hop-skip-jump visit to Whole Foods. I have visited their stores many a times before, but had to shop and whiz out like a breeze. This time around I had a lot of time on hand and could not contain my excitement when I found the precise grain, herb or the lentil I was looking for in the longest time. Best part is you can shop by weight for grains, dry fruits and lentils, select your items from the respective food bin, this also saves me from the trouble of buying large bags of grocery supplies when all I need is a pound or a quarter of a particular grain or lentil. Of the two kinds of Couscous they sold - French and Mediterranean, I chose the latter because my husband is fond of Pasta and Middle Eastern dishes specifically. I am not a big fan of pasta, although the tiny bits of Couscous were hard to pass. I cooked them with stock and Mushroom and Green Squash which has a delicate tender flavor and added an Indian twist of spices. The meal was filling and needless to say, I would be trying Couscous more often now.

Couscous is a wonder grain and has double the amount of vitamins and has a lower fat content in comparison to rice. The look and feel of the grain is like Sago (Sabudana). Since it is a delicate grain, over seasoning is not recommended. Light seasoning and fresh vegetables, the grain comes to life. I am not sure if these are available in India, however I think they should be available in specialty grocery stores in India.

~ Couscous with Mushroom & Green Squash ~
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Couscous (Mediterranean) - 1 cup
Green Squash (diced) - 1/2 cup
Button Mushrooms (sliced) - 1/2 cup
Onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Crushed Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Vegetable or Chicken stock - 1 can approx. 2 cups (1: 2 - double the quantity of grain)
Olive Oil

Rinse the grains multiple times in water till clear. In a deep bottomed pan, heat a few spoons of Olive oil, saute onions till they turn translucent. Add the chopped vegetables and season with salt and crushed pepper. Separately, bring the stock to a rolling boil. Once the vegetables are par cooked, add the grains and saute to coat the vegetables and seasoning on the grain evenly. Add the boiling stock now and cover with a lid & lower the flame. The stock should be the double the amount of grain. Once cooked through open the lid and gently fork the grain. If not cooked through, add more stock and keep stirring till they are cooked and the texture is pillow soft. Serve as a main course with a side of meat or vegetable dish.

Note - Do not cook the grain with water, the flavor of couscous is enhanced with the stock one adds. Do not wash the grains a lot as the starch buildup facilitates the cooking process. Too much washing eliminates the starch thereby hindering the cooking process.

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