taste the rainbow

The act of preparing food is a highly multisensory experience. While taste may be the predominant sense in mind when selecting ingredients to pair and flavors to layer, each of our senses plays a key role in the makings of a meal, no matter how complex or simple. Smell is the telltale sign of a perfectly baked brownie or a sadly charred piece of bread. Touch, not only on our hands but all throughout our mouth, is what makes biting into a crisp apple or crackly meringue so satisfying. The sounds of clanging pots and sizzling oil are my comforting soundtrack after a long day. Sight is what attracts us to food both up close and at a distance. The most simple breakfast of toast can be elevated to something special when placed on a beautiful plate and surrounded by bright orange slices. It is this final sense that most inspired my cooking last week. I was moseying around the produce section of the grocery store when a dazzling display of rainbow carrots caught my eye. I’d seen white and yellow carrots before, but these—as advertised—covered the whole spectrum. I giddily picked one of each hue and made my way home.

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Each carrot harbored a surprise inside. The green one had a lemony yellow center. The red had a horseradish tang. My favorite was the purple one, with a strong amethyst rim and a bright orange center, reminding me of my favorite Disney dragon. I was sated merely by looking at this colorful array. In an attempt to not mar their natural beauty, I roasted them for just twenty minutes to bring out a bit of sweetness and softness. I tossed them with a bright dressing of lime juice, honey, pomegranate molasses, and cumin, and a heaping handful of chopped parsley. To give it some lunchtime bulk I added some cooked couscous and chick peas. In the midst of a busy day in the O.R., pulling out this dazzling lunchtime display literally brightened my day.

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As you shop, cook, and eat, I hope you challenge yourself to see, taste, smell, feel, and hear food in new ways and allow your kitchen to be a playground for your senses.

Rainbow Carrots with Lime Dressing

Carrots:

6 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick coins

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500F. Toss carrots with olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper and arrange on a cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until carrots are slightly soft but still retain a bite.

Dressing:

3 limes, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp honey

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

1/4 tsp cumin

1/3 cup chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together. Set aside.

To assemble: 

Toss roasted carrots with dressing. If desired, combine with 1 cup of cooked couscous and 1 can of drained chickpeas (or any other grains or beans that strike your fancy). Dried cranberries or toasted almonds would also be great additions.

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nested

I have been jokingly saying that for the past few weeks, I have been nesting. Like an expectant mother awaiting the chaos and loss of leisurely times that a new baby brings, I’ve been bracing myself for starting third year, where, as we were told during orientation, we should expect to have none of our ducks in a row.

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And now, the night before my Medicine rotation starts, I sit here with my laundry folded, pants hemmed, bathtub scrubbed, and most importantly, my fridge, freezer, and pantry stocked with food. I’ve realized over the years that knowing that I have healthy, delicious food on hand is a form of security for me—a way of knowing that no matter how crazy a day I have, a fresh, nutritious meal will await me at the finish line. So in preparation for busier times ahead, I’ve been embracing the freezer: mushroom barley soup, lentil stew, Cuban black beans, Spanish garbanzos, ratatouille, veggie chili and mushroom walnut burgers from Kate, and and embarrassingly lot more are neatly tucked away into plastic containers, awaiting a day in the near future when they’ll be lovingly reheated and put to a very noble and nourishing use.

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But today was a final day of leisure. And for me, a leisurely day always incorporates some time in the kitchen. A fresh mango salsa and vanilla almond granola arose from the day’s culinary adventures, as well as a bountiful slaw with miso dressing. Inspired by a carton of plump sugar snap peas from the farmers’ market and a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I concocted a salad of Napa cabbage, snap peas, carrots, red pepper, scallions, and proteinaceous doses of quinoa and edamame. The mountain of vegetables and grains was tossed in a creamy miso, ginger, and tahini dressing, and sprinkled with some fresh cilantro and basil for brightness. This was the ideal recipe to tackle during an afternoon where I was looking for an activity to draw out the hours and listen to some music, as lots of slicing, blanching, julienning, blending, and tossing were involved. But the result is a huge batch of a fresh, protein-packed slaw bursting with sweet peas of summer that will serve as a hearty yet light lunch for the week.

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So, maybe my ducks will be all out of order this year, but at the very least, I’ve tried to make them the best nest I could.

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Sugar Snap Pea, Edamame, and Quinoa Slaw with Sesame Miso Dressing

adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

1 cup quinoa

1/2 lb sugar snap peas

1 cup edamame, cooked and shelled

1/2 pound Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)

3 large scallions, white and green parts sliced thinly on a bias

3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Sesame-Miso Dressing

1 tbsp fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove

2 tbsp mild yellow or white miso

2 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp honey

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil

To cook quinoa: bring 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium and allow quinoa to cook for 15-20 minutes, until water is gone and quinoa is soft to your taste. Fluff with a fork.

To blanch snap peas: Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the sugar snap peas and cook for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and drain. Pat the snap peas dry, and then remove the stems and slice them thinly on a bias.

In a very large bowl (this makes a ton!) combine snap peas with cooked edamame, sliced cabbage, red pepper, and scallions, grated carrot, and sesame seeds.

For dressing: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blender and whir until smooth.

Pour dressing over vegetable and quinoa mixture and toss many times to coat completely. Serve right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

dillicious

So, apparently our heads were off in the Southern Hemisphere when we chose pomegranate as this week’s ingredient, proclaiming at the time that it would be “the perfect springtime food” with which to experiment. Turns out that pomegranate is in fact a fall food, and furthermore, it is nowhere to be found in our respective grocery stores in the middle of March. Hence, we unveil this week’s new ingredient: Cauliflower.

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This ingredient switch came at a fortuitous time, as I was assigned to bring a vegetable side dish to my family’s Passover seder on Monday night. Cauliflower is really a carte blanche among the vegetable kingdom, amenable to countless cooking techniques—steaming, boiling, roasting, mashing—and endless flavor combinations. I knew that amidst a smorgasbord of my aunt’s famous brisket, my grandma’s fruit compote, potato kugel, matzah ball soup, charoset (apple and walnut salad), and gefilte fish (shout out to Diphyllobothrium latum!), something fresh and light was in order for my cauliflower dish.

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In keeping with the holiday’s celebration of the springtime, I chose to showcase the most quintessential of spring herbs: dill. This feathery herb is one of my all-time favorites and is a natural fit with cauliflower. Into the food processor went a huge bunch of dill, a bit of parsley, lemon zest and juice, some garlic, and a handful of pistachios for sweetness. The result was a verdant and vibrant sauce that deliciously enveloped florets of golden roasted cauliflower.

This dish added a dilly and lemony bite of freshness to our abundant holiday meal, and the next day, it made for a great addition to a lunchtime salad. When it’s not cauliflower week, I can’t wait to try this sauce on other things—pasta salad, potatoes, sandwiches—it’s almost as versatile as our starring ingredient itself.

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If we manage to track it down, see you next week for some epazote experimentation!

Dillicious Roasted Cauliflower

2 heads cauliflower, broken into florets

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bunch dill (about 1 cup)

¼ cup flat leaf parsley

1 lemon

1 clove garlic

¼ cup pistachios

⅓-½ cup olive oil

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until cauliflower is golden brown in places.

While cauliflower is roasting, combine dill, parsley, zest and juice of lemon, garlic, and pistachios in a food processor until finely ground. With processor running, slowly stream in olive oil until it reaches desired consistency. Add sugar and salt and pepper to taste and give mixture one final pulse. (Pesto can be made 1 day ahead of time).

Toss roasted cauliflower with pesto and serve (I would suggest starting off with about 1/2 cup and adding more of the sauce to taste). Cauliflower keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge and is tasty as a cold salad, as well.

cranking up the heat

In the realm of baking, 350 is a comfortable number. It’s the tried and true temp for producing moist quickbreads, gooey brownies, and tender cookies. As a kid, I was schooled in the world of baking long before I ventured into the arena of savory cooking, and for most of my childhood, I thought that temperatures above the 300s were reserved for the oven cleaning mode or some horribly hazardous activities.

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I distinctly remember the first time I cooked something at 400 degrees. I was in middle school. The recipe was for Rachael Ray’s oven fries. My mom was at work. My dad was busy with his tools in the garage. With no one around, I cranked the oven dial past the 350 mark and set it squarely on 400. I felt a rush of rebellion. The potato wedges quickly crisped to a golden brown before anyone could see the dangerously high temperatures with which I was playing. I had discovered the joy of roasting, and there was no turning back.
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These days, roasting is one of my techniques for cooking all manner of things. Carrots are a natural fit for high-heat cooking and have become my favorite vegetable to roast. For this recipe, I first thought about cooking them at 425, but on a whim, let the dial creep up to 475. I figured it would save me some time, and potentially add a bit more color to the carrots. I tossed the half-moon slices in a generous glug of olive oil and threw them into the fiery oven as I prepared the rest of the salad components: a lemon harissa dressing (inspired by this great book), quinoa with golden raisins, and wilted rainbow chard. Within 30 minutes, everything was ready for assembly, and I opened the oven to find 475-degree-kissed perfection: the carrots were caramelized, tender but not too soft, and had a beautiful amber hue. I mixed everything together and topped the salad with fresh mint and a handful of chopped walnuts for a weeks worth of filling lunches. Even when eaten cold, the sweet smokiness from the roasted carrots really shone through.

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Whether you’re reading this from chilly Iowa or steamy Miami, I urge you to crank up the heat higher than usual and bask in the pleasures of roasting.

Roasted Carrot Salad with Harissa Lemon Dressing

Roasted carrots:
4 large carrots
3 tbsp olive oil
salt

Preheat oven to 475. Peel and cut carrots into half moons. Toss carrots with olive oil and a couple shakes of salt and spread on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway through and then every 10 minutes after that until tender and caramelized in some spots.

Quinoa:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
¼ cup golden raisins

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan on high heat, covered with a lid. When contents come to a boil, reduce heat to medium high and cook for 10-15 minutes, until water is completely absorbed and quinoa is al dente.

Chard:
1 large head rainbow chard (or any other dark green)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
Zest of a lemon

In a large pot over medium heat, saute chard and garlic in olive oil for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until wilted and slightly cooked down, but still retaining some bite. Add lemon zest and remove from heat.

Dressing:
1 lemon
2 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp honey
⅛ tsp cumin
3 tbsp olive oil

Combine lemon zest and juice, harissa, honey, and cumin in a small bowl. Add olive oil and whisk vigorously to emulsify the dressing.

To assemble:
½ cup chopped fresh mint
Handful of chopped walnuts
salt and pepper to taste

Combine cooked quinoa, roasted carrots, cooked chard, dressing, mint, and walnuts in a large bowl (or save a dish and use the chard pot) and stir until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy warm or cold. Keeps well in the fridge.

Other tasty add-in ideas: feta cheese, 1 can of drained garbanzos, chopped or shredded cooked chicken

feeling squirrely

Being stuck in the middle of winter has imparted me with a squirrely compulsion to have my pantry hyper-stocked. This is by no means a bad thing, except for the fact that I am about sixteen bags, cans, and boxes of nuts, grains, and beans away from clearing out my cabinet before heading home in a month. I knew this weekend I needed to tackle a few of these items, and the first, and perhaps fondest item, to experiment with was a bag of dried brown lentils. Lentil soup is my usual go-to lentil dish, but I decided to switch it up this week, inspired by three juicy Meyer lemons that had been eyeing me from my produce drawer all week long and a recipe I had recently seen for lentils, sweet potatoes, and radishes in a Meyer lemon dressing.
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Radishes are not something I normally gravitate towards—their bitterness just doesn’t sit quite right with me. But roasting them was pretty revolutionary. They went from being having a sharp and crunchy bite to being meltingly soft and even a little bit sweet. Paired with my all-time favorite, the sweet potato, and a mustard, thyme, and Meyer lemon vinaigrette, this salad was bright, yet earthy, and had a beautiful mix of colors to boot. I shared this with friends at a potluck dinner tonight, and I’m already looking forward to having leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

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One bag of beans down, 15 more pantry staples to go. Stay tuned for more!

Lentil Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 8-10

Roasted Vegetables:
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 lb radishes, cut into small cubes
1 red onion, diced
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 450. Toss cubes sweet potatoes, radishes, and diced onions with 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, and thyme. Use remaining tbsp of olive oil to coat the bottom of a cookie sheet. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer. Roast for one hour or until sweet potatoes start to caramelize, stirring every 15 minutes.

Lentils:
2 ½ cups (1 bag) green or brown lentils
5 cups water

Rinse lentils under cold water. Place them in a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer with a lid partially on the pot for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft but not mushy. If all the water is not absorbed during the cooking process, drain off liquid in a colander.

Vinaigrette:
3 Meyer lemons
2 tbsp grainy mustard (Dijon would work too)
1-2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
a few cracks of black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

Whisk together zest and juice of 3 lemons, mustard, thyme and black pepper. Add olive oil and whisk until vinaigrette is emulsified.

To assemble:
Stir cooked lentils, roasted vegetables, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve warm or cold. Keeps well for meals throughout the week!

the corn thing

Disclaimer: The use of canned corn in the following recipe is not endorsed by Kate Adkins nor any of her Iowa brethren.

Have you ever noticed that the first items to go at bake sales always seem to be the things that are the simplest to make? Puppy chow, funfetti cupcakes, brownies from a mix. As much as I love making things from scratch, there’s something to be said for finding convenient ways to appeal to the masses. The corn thing does just that. This concoction of canned corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and butter takes less than five minutes and zero cooking ability to put together, yet it has elicited a standing ovation from my family at Thanksgiving dinner (I kid you not) and multiple requests for the recipe post-consumption.

I’ve seen many iterations of this recipe around the internet with names such as “corn casserole” and “baked corn.” While these titles aptly describe the dish, my cousin Jason dubbed it “the corn thing” years ago, I believe when asking how many pans of “the corn thing” would be at Thanksgiving dinner (and staking claim to about half of a pan), and now I can call it by no other name. If you’re looking for a creamy, corny, crowd-pleasing side dish to add to your Thanksgiving spread, look no further than the corn thing.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Thank you for reading our blog and for inspiring me to be a more avid and creative cook!
The Corn Thing
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 (8 oz) box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 (14.75 oz) can creamed corn
1 (15 oz) can whole corn kernels, drained
2 eggs
8 oz. sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into 9×13 pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until slightly golden.

fall back

Hello out there. Sorry for my radio silence of late. Things have been hectic here since we last talked. There has been an embarrassing incidence peanut-butter-and-pickle-sandwich-for-dinner-kinds-of-nights around here and not enough creations I felt were worthy to share with you. But I just picked the other half of Sugar Cured up from the airport (and she brought me New York bagels, bless her soul) and hearing about all her food adventures in NYC (which you all will undoubtedly hear about soon) made me realize I was long overdue for a post.

As I’ve probably told you before, and as you might have guessed by the peanut butter and pickle ref – don’t knock it til you’ve tried it – most of my food habits are yolked to my (often bizzare) cravings. And the other day I got a crazy craving for stuffing. Now I’m nearly certain that I’ve never even tasted stuffing and I don’t really know what it’s supposed to taste like, so it’s more likely that I was craving the idea of it- salty and sweet and celery and thyme and onions and carbs. And I’m just as certain that the Kate-original-creation that resulted in no way resembles any stuffing that any reasonable person makes. But it satisfied the craving to a T and I can’t wait to make it again. It uses mostly ingredients that I always have on hand but manages to be full of enough unexpected flavors to be uniquely craveable. You might even be tempted to skip the stuffing and put this on the Thanksgiving table in its stead.

If you’re not the type of person that hoards mason jars of strange grains in her pantry (ahem, not that I know anybody like that) you might not be too familiar with bulgur. Think of it like couscous with more substance. For most of my bulgur recipes, I just pour some boiling water over it and let it sit on the countertop until it’s soft, but for this recipe I opted to simmer it in broth and I liked the results.

“Stuffing” Salad with Bulgur

1 c bulgur (substitute couscous or quinoa but seriously you should try bulgur)

1 c water + 1 c broth or 2 c water + 1 square vegetable bullion

1 T olive oil

1 T butter

1/2 c onion, finely chopped

2 large shallots, chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 medium sweet potato

2-3 large handfuls of kale, roughly chopped

Several sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 t dried thyme

Balsamic vinegar

1/2 c almonds, roughly chopped or slivered

1/2 c dried cranberries

1/3 crumbled goat cheese

Cook the sweet potato, using whatever method you prefer. My preferred method is by microwave. Stab the potato with a fork, cook on high for 4-5 minutes, flip it over, and cook another 2 minutes or so, continuing in minute intervals until it is soft but not mushy. Allow to cook, then remove the skin and cut into 1/2″ cubes

Meanwhile, put the bulgur and the broth and/or water in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid gone. Set aside with the lid on to allow the grain to continue to steam.

While the bulgur cooks, prepare the vegetables. Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and shallots and cook until soft and translucent. Add the carrots and celery and cook until just soft. Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Then add the kale and cook until it starts to wilt, 2-3 minutes. Deglaze the veggies with several glugs of balsamic vinegar (sorry y’all- I don’t have it in me to measure my vinegar). Cook just a minute longer so all the flavors can combine. Mix together grains, sweet potato, vegetables, cranberries, cheese, and almonds in a large bowl. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

food as fragrance

Last weekend I decided to tackle a chore I had been putting off for a while: giving my coffee pot a proper cleaning. The sources I consulted instructed me to run cycles of diluted vinegar and baking soda through the machine at least two times. I did so diligently, semi-aware of the rancid smell that was overtaking my apartment, but more intent on getting my machine squeaky clean. I figured I’d just let the acrid stench dissipate naturally, forgetting that I had a friend staying on my couch (which sits 5 feet from my kitchen) that very night.
I needed a fragrant fix. And I needed it fast.
Luckily, I had all the ingredients for one of my favorite fall staples on hand: ginger orange cranberry sauce. Once fresh cranberries hit the produce shelves, I buy a bag a week, throw them into a pot with orange zest, ginger, and sugar, add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla for extra warmth, and voila—I’m left with a vat of ruby-red, sweet, tart sauce that I pile on everything from oatmeal at breakfast, to yogurt at lunch, to what you now may know as my go-to dinner food, sweet potatoes. Perhaps the best part of making cranberry sauce—and the most important aspect this time around—are the incredible smells that emanate from the pot as the berries bubble and burst in a ginger-orange bath. The aromas give me the comfort of knowing that Thanksgiving is around the corner and that soon, I’ll get to make this cranberry sauce with my mom and eat it surrounded by family. And in case you were wondering, this cranberry sauce does an excellent job at making vinegary odors dissipate into an autumnal abyss.
Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce

1 bag fresh cranberries

Zest of 1 orange
2-3 inches ginger root, finely grated
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Place cranberries, orange zest, ginger, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow mixture to boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the cranberries have popped (you can tell the cranberries have popped when they have a slit in them). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and cinnamon if using. Allow mixture to come to room temperature in pot. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools. Enjoy warm on the spot, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

sunday potluck

Late one night last August, my roommate Noura and I found ourselves in a rut. It was only the second week of medical school, but we were already feeling the drain of the go-to-school-then-go-home-and-study-then-go-to-bed-and-do-it-all-over-again routine. No one said med school would be a walk in the park, but we found ourselves craving something more than lecture and lab to look forward to each week. We decided we needed to institute something that would bring our classmates together and away from the books on a regular basis. Although we had only known each other for mere days, it was apparent that a love for good food was a common bond that tied much of our class together. Hence, Sunday Potluck was born.

 Nearly every Sunday night throughout the school year, we gathered in classmates’ apartments to enjoy what was unfailingly my best meal of the week. We’d load our plates with fresh salads, hearty stews, and homemade breads, each dish teaching us a little more about its cook’s personality, culture, and family. Although Sunday night usually marks the ominous transition to the busy week ahead, it quickly became my favorite time of the week.

With the start of a new school year comes a new year of potlucks. This Sunday, Noura and I hosted a fall-themed dinner, and our classmates delivered warm soups, thick bean stews, and glistening tarts to our home. I made a mountain of balsamic roasted vegetables, a recipe that was passed on to me by my Aunt Karen. It was the perfect dish to tackle on a Sunday, when spending nearly an hour chopping vegetables served as a great time to catch up with friends on the phone, and when having a container full of leftover caramelized butternut squash, apples, carrots, and parsnips provides the perfect slow-cooked base for quickly made weeknight dinners.
As potlucks continue this year, I look forward to sharing my weekly creations not only with my classmates, but also with all my wonderful family and friends here on sugarcured.
Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables
Courtesy of my Aunt Karen
Note: This recipe makes a lot of vegetables (serves 15-20), so scale up or down accordingly. You can also use any root vegetables that strike your fancy. I’ve swapped sweet potatoes for butternut squash before, and it was still great!Vegetables:
1 large butternut squash
3 large carrots
3 large parsnips
2 large red onions
6 Granny Smith apples

Marinade:
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp each thyme and rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp light brown sugar
Salt and ground pepperPreheat oven to 500. In a large bowl, combine all of the vegetables. In a small separate bowl, combine marinade ingredients, except salt and pepper. Mix marinade into vegetables and let sit for up to 2 hours. Arrange vegetables on a foil-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35-40 minutes, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Easy being green

Of all the things to love about early summer — long weekends, visitors from home, the beach (!!!) — the thing i’m loving the most is how everything is so green around here. Even in the middle of the city, the greenness is staggering and endlessly mood-improving. I think I was subliminally influenced by all this color to make my second recipe from Plenty (see last week’s post on Baba Ghanoush), green couscous. With no less than 9 green ingredients, it surely lives up to its name.

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At the heart of the green couscous is a knock-your-socks-off herb paste which I am heretofore inspired to add to everything I cook for the rest of the summer. The recipe calls for parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, and mint, but I officially give you license to use what ever green herbs are ready in your garden or cheap at the market. In fact, the whole recipe lends itself to improvisation. I made a second batch this week with rice in place of the coucous, and it worked equally nicely. I can imagine subbing baby spinach for arugula, though the arugula does add a perfect crunch to the salad.

Green couscous (adapted from Plenty)

1 c couscous

3/4 c boiling water or vegetable stock

1 T olive oil or buuter

1/4 t salt, to taste

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sugar

Herb paste

1/2 c chopped parsley

1 c chopped cilantro

2 T chopped tarragon

2 T chopped dill

2 T chopped mint

4 T olive oil

1/2 unsalted pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

3 green onions, finely sliced

1 fresh green chile (I used half a Poblano), finely chopped

1 1/2 c arugula leaves, roughly chopped

Place the couscous in a large bowl, cover it with boiling water or stock, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the salad

Fry the onion in the oil/butter on medium heat until golden and completely soft. You’re going for near-caramelization. Add the salt, sugar, and cumin just before it’s done cooking. Leave to cool slightly

Make the herb paste: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add a little more oil to make a consistency like a thick pesto

Add the herb paste to the couscous and mix everything with a fork to fluff it up. Now add the rest of the ingredients, including the onion mixture, and gently mix.

Serve at room temperature. Makes a good side dish, or a main course/lunch topped with feta. Keeps well for lunch the next day!