Sunday, September 14, 2008

Recipe Review! Moroccan Couscous

I have yet to reach the point of being very creative with my own recipes, so I normally look up an ingredient I'm interested in on the Internet and make a variation of someone else's creation. Today, I was in the mood for couscous, and I found an awesome recipe for Moroccan Couscous.

It calls for so many spices, and the cayenne pepper definitely gave it a hot flavor, but the raisins it called for offset it with a sweetness once you bit into one of them. Here's the original recipe, and I'll show point out the alterations I ended up making:

* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
* 1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
* 2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
* 1/2 cup golden raisins
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* grated zest of one orange
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 cup orange juice
* 1 1/2 cups couscous
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1. Place a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir in the cumin, ginger, cloves, cayenne, cardamom, coriander, and allspice; gently toast until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in oil and onion, cook until softened. Stir in the bell pepper, and zucchini; cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins, salt, zest, and garbanzos.
2. Pour in the chicken broth and orange juice; turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, stir in the couscous and remove from heat; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and fold in chopped mint.

For the spices, I didn't have any cardamom or coriander, so I just didn't add those, but I did add a little bit of sage. I ended up using a bit more olive oil than the recipe called for because I was worried that the spices weren't wet enough and would burn in the pan. I had no peppers or zucchinis, so I simply left them out. (But I don't care for peppers anyway.) I also didn't have orange juice, so what I did is I made 2 cups of chicken broth to make up for the lacking liquid, but I did have some orange flavoring that I put into the recipe, however, I don't think I put in nearly enough. The reviews of I read of this recipe seemed to have a general feel that the orange in the original recipe was too overpowering anyway. Because I didn't have the sweetness and natural sugars of the orange juice, I left out the mint leaves, because in my experience, biting down on a bit of mint is a very bitter taste, and I knew I no longer had the sweet/bitter balance.

Although I know that especially without the peppers and orange my version wouldn't taste like the original one, it was still very very good! I didn't feel that it lacked in flavor at all! One of the things I love about couscous is it is so versatile and easy to make. Breakfast couscous is also really awesome--by just adding cinnamon, honey, and raisins, it's a very sweet meal. I took a picture, but it's a bit blurry, and the couscous looks a bit more white than it actually was. The chicken broth made it a nice brown color. One last thing I'd say about this recipe is that I, personally, would add some more raisins. Maybe 3/4th cups instead.

Mmmmm. This is the perfect thing to make extra of and put it in Tupperware containers to take to work. Loved it.

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