It’s a rare day that Betsy is drawn to a cookbook. I get new books every week and she will typically just transfer them from the mailbox to my inbox.
Sure enough. Even my non-cook wife was drawn to this beauty of a book.
I made these delicious couscous bowls from it first. I think what I like most about these bowls is that they can be eaten for any meal. We ate them for dinner one night, but I could see them working fantastically for a lazy brunch or even a weekday lunch.
Check out how to make these Lebanese inspired bowls and read on to enter to win a copy of the book!
1) In a medium pot, heat water until simmering. Stir lemon zest, cinnamon, coriander, za'atar spice and couscous together in a bowl. Once water is bowling, add couscous mixture, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2) Fluff couscous with a fork after it rests and then stir in parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olive oil, and pepper.
3) For yogurt sauce, stir together ingredients and set aside until needed.
4) For cheese, slice halloumi into 1/4-inch slices. Add olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Add cheese slices and sear for 2 minutes per side until nicely browned and crispy on the outsides. Serve sprinkled with lemon juice.
Pile couscous in a bowl (or divide it between four bowls) and arrange cheese slices around the outside. Garnish with yogurt sauce and extra chives and za'atar seasoning. This recipe makes a great dinner for two as-is.
Recipe lightly adapted from Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon.
Couscous Gone Crazy
Umm… here’s the thing. Couscous is bland. I’ve always liked how light and fluffy it can be, but sometimes it can be just a bit blah.
This couscous is not that couscous. Megan’s recipe jam-packs spices and add-ins in with the couscous that take it to another level.
See that little spice dish there? That’s za’atar spice which is used heavily in this recipe. Actually the original recipe called for three tablespoons, but I reduced it to two because my spice blend was dried and therefore a bit stronger.
Megan gives a recipe for a fresh za’atar spice in the book and if you made that, you could go full strength on it.
Before you cook the couscous, stir the spices in with the dried couscous. The lemon zest is completely essential. Not optional.
Couscous cooks quickly. In fact, after you stir it into the boiling water, cover it and take it off the heat entirely. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then fluff it with a fork for perfectly light couscous.
Then you can stir in the olive oil, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. The colors are awesome and it will smell amazing!
While your couscous rests you can work on the other part of the dish which was my personal favorite.
Most people tend to think of melting as a good quality for a cheese. But not always. Some cheeses don’t melt at all or very little and while that makes them really bad choices for enchiladas, it makes them perfect choices for this dish. Because we are going to pan fry the cheese in thick slices, choosing a cheese that doesn’t melt is pretty essential.
The original recipe calls for a sheep and goat milk cheese called halloumi. If you can’t find that, there are a few other options that won’t melt and fry nicely. I used a Mexican cheese called Panela that has very similar characteristics. It’s a semi-hard cheese that is sturdy and doesn’t really melt at all.
So, if you can find halloumi, use it. Whatever you do, don’t use mozzarella.
To fry the cheese, add a small drizzle of olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and sear the cheese slices for about 2 minutes per side. They should be very golden brown and crispy on the edges.
While the couscous is resting and/or cheese is frying, you can mix together your sauce quickly.
The original recipe just called for plain yogurt but I used labne which is a creamy cheese yogurt situation that I love. Either will work fine.
Finishing off the bowls isn’t hard. Pile in the couscous mixture and top with a few slices of cheese. Then dollop on the yogurt sauce and garnish the bowls with extra parlsey and za’atar seasoning.
You can serve this in individual bowls or pile everything high in one large bowl and serve it family style.
Betsy and I ate this for dinner one night and it was so good. Definitely one of the better couscous dishes I’ve had.
A winner for sure.
I’m giving away two copies of Megan’s book, Whole-Grain Mornings. I’ll pick two winners next Saturday (03/08). Unfortunately, I can only ship the books to a U.S. address.
To enter, just leave a comment with your favorite breakfast grain!