French Fridays with Dorie
Truth time: my pantry is a disaster.
My teeny tiny kitchen cabinet is more like an orphanage for never-to-be used again ingredients than a place to store the most-commonly-used food ingredients. Disordered shelves are jam packed with former ‘exotic all-stars’ now rendered useless as the odds got ever slimmer I would ever make the recipe I purchased them for again. Whether or not I even have enough of whatever it was to make another go of the recipe I will still keep its remnants.
Why do I do this? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I do things like that.
Shelves and shelves of stuff I will never use again!
If ever I do feel the call to use these ingredients again its a safe bet the impulse will not come while they are still edible. As I look at this crap, I see I should have thrown them out months ago. Clearly my people’s hoarding instinct is just too strong. This desire to hold onto tiny bits of pantry foodstuffs may have been a distinct evolutionary advantage during the Paleolithic era. In this era, it only serves to annoy he who would prefer I keep a “minimalist kitchen” — one with only a single variety of salt thankyouverymuch.
I have to imagine that somewhere in my ancestral past there were one or two very clever hunter-gatherer types. They managed to survive the harsh winter due solely to the small baggy containing three tablespoons of dried cherries and an opened box containing a quarter cup of stale rotini had squirreled away.
It must have been these fortunate genes that survived into the millennium and then produced me while those of other more minimalist cave men perished along the way.
Of the six shelves available for me to store the many useful items I could need at a moment’s notice all but one contains anything useful. This shelf, shelf number six, is of course reserved for liquor – and everyone knows there is no such thing as liquor that won’t be used later. But let’s get back to the other five:
A “flash inventory” of my current pantry situation reveals a bounty of already opened boxes of pasta, each one filled with exactly not enough for any one single entree. I see several tiny bags of dried this-and-thats, most several months beyond their visual recognition date; three cans of protein powder leftover from three diet fads ago, raw almonds, six small bags of assorted and very unusable non-wheat flours, roasted almonds, vacuum packed chestnuts for that soup I was going to make again at Christmas, blanched almonds, two boxes of bullion cubes, jars of exotic spice blends with unpronounceable names, unused vinegar flavors (coconut?), slivered almonds, 4 room service ketchups I’m saving even though I have a bottle in the fridge, a box of brown sugar that can be used to anchor a boat and way WAY too many cans of beans.
This begs the question: Why do I buy cans of beans each time I go to the market?
So to get to the point, and the point being this Moroccan couscous salad. I’m always on the lookout for recipes that will use up some if not all of my motley collection of useless stuff and this one fits the bill perfectly.
Even better, this Dorie Greenspan Moroccan Couscous Salad is just what I was looking for to be a ‘soft landing’ back into the Dorie-sphere following a many months long nap. The old cooking and blogging skills still feel a bit rusty, and the prospect of making up so many dishes still feels daunting. Please forgive me if I just want to pick off a few easy ones first.
I think I could make this even while sleeping. Maybe Dorie wrote it while she was sleeping? It is just that easy to make.
Please don’t expect me to remember the real reason I chose it for now. Just know it is a keeper. Not solely due to its ease of preparation but because it is another non-recipe recipe. The kind of dish that lets you re-purpose whatever odds and ends you have in your crisper and pantry and then present to the table as a richly beautiful finished dish.
Moroccan Couscous Salad
I had three partially used bags of couscous, a bag of raisins and few tablespoons of zante currents when I started this recipe. Now I have none! Success! Minimalist pantry here I come!
This is what you will need:
- 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 10-ounce box plain couscous
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1 large carrot, peeled, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 cup thinly sliced green beans or trimmed sugar snap peas
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
This is how you make it:
- In a 2 quart saucepan bring chicken broth, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin to boil. Stir in couscous and raisins, cover and remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove cover and fluff couscous with fork to break up any lumps.
- Pour couscous into a large bow and add chopped cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, green beans, and lemon peel.
- Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice in small bowl. Add to couscous; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Can be made ahead one day. Will keep for several however in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Now does anyone have a recipe that will use up some of the gallon sized bag of dried Vietnamese peppers I just found? Was I drunk when I bought these?