Pardon my absence, I’ve been graduating. And resting. And eating out. Now that I’ve completed my graduate courses in Nutrition, I feel hyper-aware of my responsibilities to promote good health—especially in my own kitchen. That’s why we’re talking whole grains today in their most loveable form. If you’re not aboard the couscous train, allow me to introduce this fluffy five-minute grain as your new weeknight wonder. Yes, a 2011 study published in Vie Pratique Gourmand showed couscous to be the third favorite dish of French people. And first place in East France! Oui.
Polish-raised folk—such as myself—can rarely resist a potato recipe. And when I saw this recipe as Vegetarian Time’s “top pick” for the April issue, I tested it in my own kitchen. If you don’t have these spices on hand, you will find plenty of excuses to use them in my favorite Eastern recipes. For a little bit of chopping, and 20 quick minutes, this simple dish offers a hearty reward.
Try this out on the deck with fresh pita and minty iced tea. Happy end-of-spring.
Quick Moroccan Tagine
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground ginger (I didn’t have this, it was fine!)
½ tsp. ground turmeric
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large leek, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds (watch prep tips here)
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch triangles (how to cut bell pepper)
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and halved (redskin or yukon gold)
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-oz. can, rinsed and drained)
2 cloves garlic, minced on a microplane or grater (2 tsp.)
8 dried apricots, quartered
½ cup dry-cured black olives, optional
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
To make the spice blend, combine all ingredients in small bowl.
To make Tagine: Heat oil in pot over medium-high heat. Add leek and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes.
Add potatoes, chickpeas, garlic, and Spice Blend; cook 30 seconds.
Stir in apricots, olives (if using), and 2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender (my red potatoes were tender in 10 minutes).
While the vegetables are simmering, make the couscous: heat 1 cup water (or chicken broth) until boiling.
Once boiling, stir in 1 cup dry couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let the couscous steam for five minutes. Regardless of the serving size, couscous always takes five minutes (glory be!). After the couscous steams, fluff gently with a fork.
Spoon the couscous into a bowl and top with the vegetables and sauce. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.