October 18, 2008

Pepin's Middle Eastern Couscous with Saffron

I must admit that I am not all that impressed with Jacques Pepin's new cookbook, More Fast Food My Way. Most of the recipes do not sound (or look) appealing at all, and many of them call for canned foods (like fruit) and other "prepared" short cuts.

Someone asked him about the book at the signing on Wednesday. He said that this is how he cooks at home during the week when he is in a rush. He mentioned some of his favorite quick meals, including buying a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, cutting it up, plating it over Boston lettuce leaves, and topping with a quick sauce.

The recipes in More Fast Food My Way are like that. However, there are a few recipes that sound good and peak my interest...like turkey scaloppine with dried morels, sausage patties with pumpkin seeds & mushrooms, lamb curry, pumpkin gratin, Tibetan flatbread, and Seckel pears in coffee.

I tried his Middle Eastern Couscous with Saffron tonight. I bought some of the couscous earlier this week, because I've never tried it before. So, I was excited to see this recipe.

Pepin writes: In the last few years, a larger, pebblelike variety of couscous, known variously as Israeli, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, or Italian couscous, has appeared on the market. Like instant couscous, it is made of semolina, but is grains are much larger, about the size of peppercorns. For this recipe, I cook the couscous covered for about 10 minutes and then uncover it and cook it for for a few minutes longer, stirring occasionally, to produce loose, soft, tender grains that are neither sticky nor soupy. I season the dish with onion and saffron and add pumpkin seeds for crunch.

Middle Eastern Couscous with Saffron

2 tablespoons good olive oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds *
1 teaspoon crushed saffron pistils
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 sprigs fresh tarragon or parsley, for garnish

* Kelly's note: I used sunflower seeds because I couldn't find shelled pumpkin seeds.
  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and add the onion, seeds, and saffron. I would recommend using a non-stick pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the couscous, mix well.
  • Add the stock, salt, and pepper. Mix well and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Uncover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes longer to dry the grains and make them fluffy.
  • Serve garished with the herbs, if desired.
Serves 4.


pianojan said...

So did you like it?

Kelly @ Barbaric Gulp! said...

I did! I typically won't blog about a recipe unless I do like it. :-)