By Kay Stepkin, Special to Tribune Newspapers
February 20, 2013
Ever made couscous? That's the fluffy pasta from North Africa used as a main or side dish. Couscous goes with any number of ingredients, but my taste buds go wild from couscous mixed with harissa and potatoes.
Harissa is a hot chili paste also from North Africa. It can be red or green, depending upon the chilies used. Other seasonings reflect the origins of the recipe — or the chef's creativity. My version comes out more like a sauce and is faster and easier to create. Traditional dried chilis need time-consuming boiling and soaking. I recommend fresh peppers that require no special attention.
Tip: Leftover harissa can be served as a sauce for another dish, or to flavor oil to enhance any vegetable or grain.
Saffron, mint couscous with harissa potatoes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 28 minutes
2 cups water
1 cup veggie broth
2 cups whole-wheat couscous
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
6 small red potatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 serrano peppers, seeded, chopped
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ cup packed mint leaves, chopped
3 green onions, halved lengthwise, chopped
1 teaspoon saffron mixed into 1 teaspoon hot water, optional
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the water and veggie broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add couscous and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover the saucepan; lower heat to a simmer. Cook until all water is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; leave the pot covered.
2. Toss potatoes on a baking sheet with the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; bake until soft, about 25 minutes.
3. For the harissa sauce, pulse garlic and serrano peppers in a food processor until minced. Add olive oil, lemon juice, orange zest, salt and caraway seeds. Blend until thick and creamy. Transfer mixture to a bowl.
4.Spoon couscous into a large bowl; fluff with a fork. Mix in mint, green onions and saffron in water.
5. Slice potatoes into bite-size pieces. Stir 1/4 cup harissa sauce into the potatoes; mix into the couscous.
Per serving: 522 calories, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 88 g carbohydrates, 13 g protein, 937 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.
Kay Stepkin is a vegetarian cooking instructor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.