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Couscous (c)2011

I’ve come up with 10 ways to use couscous in your summer cooking:

1.  The Traditional Method

Artichoke to Za’atar is a fascinating cookbook organized by ingredients commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Each ingredient chapter is home to a handful of recipes that highlight the ingredient’s particular flavor(kind of like Though routed in tradition, the recipes are modern and fresh. In Artichoke to Za’atar you’ll find instructions on preparing couscous the traditional way, by steaming. The authors suggest aromatics such as cinnamon, onion, lemon peel, and thyme be placed in the water to flavor the couscous.

 2.  Use Your CSA

The bounty of summer produce can be overwhelming when it arrives in your community supported agriculture box. The classic couscous dish of Morocco Couscous with 7 Vegetables is a great way to put summer veg to use. The Great Book of Couscous by prolific food writer Copeland Marks details a recipe in which lamb is stewed with root vegetables like carrots, turnips, and zucchini (prolific in our markets right now). Onions, tomatoes, butternut squash,chickpeas, tumeric and a hot green chili also go into the stew which is served over steamed couscous. Take inspiration from this recipe and create your own 7 Vegetable combo!

3.  Stuff Stuff

The tiny, fluffy grains of couscous are perfect to use as a stuffing for vegetables or roast chicken. In Super Natural Every Day Heidi Swanson stuffs whole tomatoes with whole wheat couscous, harissa, basil and shallots before baking them in the oven. Little round zucchini would be delicious stuffed with couscous flavored by lemon and fresh herbs.

4.  Sweet+Savory

Couscous pairs well with fruits both dried and fresh. Marcus Samuelsson’s Mango Couscous from The Soul of a New Cuisine employs both sweet and savory flavors inspired by African cooking. His recipe combines cooked couscous with sautéed garlic, mango, jalapeño, raisins, tomato, lime juice and cilantro. This is sure to wake up your taste buds!

5.  Couscous is Delish with Fish

During summer we crave foods that are light and healthy but still flavorful, and fish is always welcome at the table. Fish and Fennel Stew with Ouzo over Couscous in Ancient Grains for Modern Meals gets flavor from the summer vegetable, fennel and the anise character of the spirit ouzo. Giada De Laurentis references the Sicilian love for couscous in Everyday Italian with her recipe for Scampi on Couscous. She cooks couscous in a tomato broth flavored with clam juice then serves it with garlicky shrimp, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. This is sounding very good to me. Seriously.

6.  Poultry & Nuts

While reading The New Book of Middle Eastern Food I came across a recipe for Couscous with Squabs and Almonds that sounded really nice for summer. You could use any small poultry at your local market like poussins or Cornish hens. The dish is made by braising the birds with saffron, ginger, almonds, and raisins. However, it might be fun to marinate the birds and grill them instead of heating up the house with your oven.

7.  Salad

Inspired by Tunisia, Marcus Samuelsson shares a recipe for Tuna-Tomato Salad in his book New American Table. The recipe calls for couscous tossed with arugula, tomatoes, capers, onions, cucumber, lime juice, sherry vinegar, sardines, olives, mint and scallions. Tuna poached in olive oil is served atop the couscous.  I’m loving the big, bold flavors. Feel free to make your own couscous salad with fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables from the market. Toss it all in your favorite homemade vinaigrette.

8.  Leftovers

Couscous loves leftover roast meats or chicken. Instead of packing a sandwich for lunch, why not try Chicken with Couscous, Honey, and Cinnamon from River Cottage Every Day? Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall sautées onion, garlic, and cinnamon briefly in oil then pours over the couscous. Next he stirs honey into hot chicken broth to dissolve, then pours the liquid over the couscous. After a few minutes the couscous is ready to be tossed with leftover roast chicken, almonds, and preserved lemon then packed for lunch. Hello gourmet!

9.  Spicy Soup

Many cultures use heavily spiced soup to induce sweating and therefore cool off in the heat of summer. Couscous functions beautifully in a soup . Use homemade chicken or vegetable broth and experiment with saffron or cumin, coriander, paprika, and allspice. A green chili or red pepper flakes can be used to add heat. Toss in leftover meats or make it vegetarian. You are the boss!

10.  Pesto & Couscous

If you have a garden then summertime is about making pesto from all that basil. Maria Speck suggests serving whole wheat couscous rather than pasta with vibrant pesto and chickpeas for an easy midweek supper in her book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.

I would love to know your favorite way of preparing couscous! Do tell in the comments- Click Here.