Tag Archives: couscous

Butternut Squash, Tomato and Chickpea Ragout with Kale and Couscous

Butternut Squash Couscous

The heat of chile, spices of North Africa and earthiness of kale beautifully complement sweet butternut squash in this hearty ragout. Bright, rich and healthy, this recipe is easily prepared in 30 minutes making it a delicious option for a weeknight. If you prefer an even richer stew, Italian sausage or chorizo may be added.  Most likely, however, you will find that the meatless version is substantial and satisfying enough to win over any carnivore. Be sure to serve the ragout with couscous to soak up the liquid.

Butternut Squash, Tomato and Chickpea Ragout with Kale and Couscous
Serves 4 to 6.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red jalapeno or serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut in 3/4 inch cubes – about 4 cups
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
1 (14-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes with juice
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups kale leaves, tough stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups couscous

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a deep sauté pan or stock pot. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 minutes. Add garlic and chiles and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add butternut squash and dry spices; sauté 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and tomatoes with juices. (The squash should be just covered with liquid. Add extra chicken stock if necessary.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until squash is tender but firm, 15-20 minutes. Add chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue to simmer, 10 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer until leaves are wilted and bright green, 2 minutes.
While the ragout is simmering bring 2 cups chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
To serve, spoon couscous into a bowl or shallow plate, leaving a well in the center. Ladle ragout into the center. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley leaves.

To prepare with sausage: As a first step, slice 8 ounces hot Italian sausage or chorizo into 1/2 inch pieces. Sauté in deep sauté pan until golden brown on all sides. Transfer sausage to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon rendered fat. Add onion and proceed with instructions above, substituting the sausage fat for the olive oil. Return sausage to the ragout with the chickpeas.

Sriracha Marinated Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

Sriracha chicken tf

Why is it that when it’s super hot outside, spicy food is the best antidote? The theory lies in the chile peppers. Their heat winds up our endorphins, radiating heat to our skin and causing us to sweat, which, in turn, cools us down. And, despite the calendar date, this is just what I need. The Bay area is presently in the midst of a record breaking heat wave. Triple digit temperatures are making up for the summer that did not happen this year. It’s hot hot hot, and I am craving spicy food.

This recipe attempts to remedy that. Consider it an Ode to an Autumn Heat Wave. Sriracha Marinated Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables takes a quintessential fall dish and ramps up the heat with a douse of sriracha. It’s homey, rustic and firing on all pistons. So, if you will excuse me, I need to go and sweat a little.

Sriracha Marinated Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

Spicy, fragrant and hearty with seasonal root vegetables, this is best served with couscous to soak up the juices.

For the marinade:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sriracha
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the roast:
1 3-4 pound free range organic chicken
6 baby sweet peppers, or 2 bell peppers, cut in 2 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 large yellow onions, quartered
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut in 2 inch chunks
1 medium cauliflower, broken in 2 inch florets
1 large fennel bulb with fronds, ends trimmed, cut in 1 inch chunks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Rinse the chicken and pat dry, including inside of the cavity, with paper towels; place in a large bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Coat all over the chicken, including inside the cavity and between the skin and breast meat. Transfer chicken to roasting pan, breast-side up. Add vegetables to the same bowl along with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Scatter the vegetables around the chicken in the roasting pan. Bake in oven 30 minutes. Remove pan and with tongs, carefully turn chicken over in pan, breast-side down. Continue roasting 20 minutes. Remove pan and turn chicken over once again, breast-side up. Continue roasting until thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer chicken to cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving. Stir vegetables in the pan with the juices and keep warm. Serve chicken with vegetables and couscous with reserved juices.

Lamb Kefta and Vegetable Couscous

Lamb Couscous

This recipe is inspired by the flavors of Morocco. Ground spiced lamb patties are oven-grilled, then added to a rich stew of winter vegetables infused with cinnamon, cumin and coriander. Served on a bed of couscous, this warming dish is heady with exotic flavors and spice – perfect for a winter dinner.

Lamb Kefta and Vegetable Couscous

While this recipe has several steps, it is easy to prepare. The lamb keftas may be assembled in advance and broiled at the end while the stew is simmering. Feel free to improvise with the vegetables for the stew. Pumpkin is a nice substitute for rutabaga, and cauliflower is interchangeable with broccoli romanesco, as pictured above. Be sure to serve the couscous with lots of the sauce from the stew. Serves 4-6.

For the Lamb Keftas:
1 1/2 lbs. (750 g.) ground lamb
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for brushing
2 teaspoons dried cumin
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves

Combine lamb and all other ingredients except cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Thoroughly mix to combine well. Stir in cilantro leaves. Form 2″ patties. (Keftas may be prepared to this point up to 6 hours in advance. Place on plate and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before broiling.) Place keftas on lightly oiled broiler pan with tray. Lightly brush lamb with olive oil. Broil in oven until dark golden brown, turning once.

For the vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, cut in 1/4″ slices
1 medium rutabaga, peeled, cut in 1″ pieces
1 small head cauliflower or broccoli romanesco, broken in 1″ florets
1 red pepper, cut in 1/2″ pieces
2 teaspoons dried cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups chicken stock
1 – 14 oz. (400 g.) can plum tomatoes with juices
1  – 15 oz.(425 g.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 cups Swiss chard leaves, rinsed, chopped in 2″-3″ pieces

For the couscous:
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves for garnish

Heat olive oil in deep sauté pan or stock pot. Add onion and garlic and sauté one minute. Add carrots, rutabaga, cauliflower and red pepper. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, coriander and cinnamon and stir to combine with vegetables. Add chicken stock and tomatoes with juices. Simmer until vegetables are tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Stir in chick peas and Swiss chard. Cover pot and simmer until chard is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

While stew is simmering, prepare couscous. Bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, olive oil and salt. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

To serve, spoon coucous onto large serving platter or individual serving plates, leaving a well in the center. Pour stew into the center, reserving some of the broth. Place Lamb keftas over stew. Pour extra broth over lamb and vegetables. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.  Serve with Harissa on the side.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes with Spiced Eggplant and Couscous Filling

Coucous Tomato Dolma

At this time of year I always have a surge of wanderlust. After all the holiday festivities and seasonal cocooning, the calendar turns a page, and I find myself looking ahead to a new year of infinite possibilities and potential travel.  Yet, while my imagination is packing its passport, reality dictates that I stay put, at least for the moment.  Children need to be delivered to school, money must be saved, work deadlines have to be met. So, I turn to the kitchen for a little escape. After all, if I can’t jump on the next airplane, at least I can transport my palate to a far-flung destination.

These stuffed tomatoes do just that. They are a variation of Middle Eastern dolmas.  Dolmas are vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplant that are stuffed with rice or bulghur, spices and sometimes ground meat.  Meatless dolmas are served cold or at room temperature, while meat dolmas are served warm. This is my version in which I have added feta and sautéed eggplant to the filling for extra body and flavor.  They are best eaten at room temperature, and can be made a day in advance. They are also guaranteed to bring a little exotic warmth to your dinner plate.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes with Spiced Eggplant and Couscous Filling

These are a lovely light dish or accompaniment to roasted meat, fish or chicken. Makes 8.


10 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 cup couscous
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 medium eggplant, ends trimmed, peeled, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, stemmed, seeded, ribs removed, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus additional leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon harissa sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 lbs. (350 g.) feta cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice


Selet 8 tomatoes that have the best presentation.  Slice off the tops. Scoop out the centers with a spoon, taking care not to pierce the outer flesh. Lightly salt the inside of the tomatoes and turn upside down on a plate. Set aside with tops reserved.

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut remaining 2 tomatoes in half.   Remove seeds and stems.  Finely dice the tomatoes and place in a large bowl.
Bring stock to boil in a sauce pan. Add couscous, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and remove from heat.  Let steam, covered, for 5 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped eggplant. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until softened and turning golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with tomatoes.
Fluff couscous with fork and add to bowl with tomatoes and eggplant. Add shallots, green pepper, garlic, chopped mint, harissa, cumin and cinnamon. Stir to combine well.
Set aside 2 tablespoons crumbled feta. Gently stir remaining feta into couscous. Taste to see if more salt is needed.
Blot the inside of the whole tomatoes gently with a paper towel. Fill the centers with the couscous. Top with reserved feta.
Arrange tomatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish. Drizzle additional olive oil over tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in oven until cheese is golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove and allow tomatoes to cool to room temperature.
Before serving, drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and reserved tomato tops.

Couscous Eggplant