Couscous - What is it?
Couscous is a delicious and nutritious pasta that is made from ground semolina flour, it has been a staple in the diet of North African Countries for centuries. It is similar in color, texture and taste to rice. As a matter of fact it can be used in place of rice in many recipes. It is very low in taste and will take on the flavor of the food you add to the recipe. It is a perfect ingredient to use in many ethnic recipes.
Couscous is available in most grocery store in a pre steamed version much the same as an instant rice. In this form it is also available with different flavor already added. This type of couscous makes a great quick and easy side dish. Couscous added to legumes and beans are also a grocery store staple, delicious and nutritious. It is a low-fat complex carbohydrate, in other words unlike many starches, it does not produce a rapid spike in blood sugar. It has 0% total fat, 0% cholesterol, very low amount of sodium, sugar, and carbohydrates. It is also very high in selenium which is a trace mineral that works as an antioxidant in combination with Vitamin K to protect cells from free radicals. Selenium also helps to regulate the thyroid and is needed for proper immune system functioning.
How to prepare couscous
For simplicity's sake we will deal with the pre-steamed or instant couscous, it is quicker and easier to use. Besides, I personally like it better. To prepare it first read the directions on the package. All you need to do is pour boiling water over the couscous and cover with plastic wrap. After a few minutes it will swell and you can then uncover it and fluff with a fork. When it is properly prepared it is tender, has a light fluffy texture and a moist taste.
Because couscous largely takes its flavor from what is added to it, any broth will instantly make your couscous dish a flavorful delight. I frequently add a broth 9 vegetable, chicken, ham or beef) and chop up a handful of onion and green pepper, sometimes mushrooms and add to my couscous when adding the boiling water. It taste great. Below you will find a favorite recipe of mine.
Chicken Vegetable Couscous
1 large coarsely chopped chicken breast
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup diced onion
1 diced green pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 can sliced black olives
2 stalks finely chopped celery
2 chopped tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp salt substitute
1 tsp pepper
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
2 cups couscous
4 cups hot chicken broth
Heat olive oil, add chicken, all vegetables except for spinach, and seasoning. Sauté until chicken tuns white and is tender. Add spinach and set aside.
Meanwhile prepare couscous according to package directions substituting boiling water for chicken broth.
Combine chicken vegetable mix and couscous.
Note: This dish is great served with a side salad.
Black Bean and Couscous Salad
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
8 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
salt and pepper to taste
- Bring chicken broth to a boil in a 2 quart or larger saucepan and stir in the couscous. Cover the pot and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar and cumin. Add green onions, red pepper, cilantro, corn and beans and toss to coat.
- Fluff the couscous well, breaking up any chunks. Add to the bowl with the vegetables and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve at once or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: I found this wonderful recipe on the allrecipes.com. It is a delicious recipe that is well worth trying.
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© 2010 Susan Hazelton