The Couscous Challenge


I really like my job. Partly as a result of I take pleasure in nitpicking the English language and partly as a result of going by way of numbers of recipes and health-related articles each week fills me with bits of dietary knowledge – and the need to find extra.

After all, being a duplicate editor would not additionally make you an amazing cook dinner. However with time, endurance, and a wholesome urge for food, all of us can be taught.

Step one to a blooming studying course of is curiosity. It was this nagging state of affairs that led me to wander down the pasta aisle of my native grocery retailer the opposite day, lingering between grains, ready for heavenly inspiration to hit me with a stupendous dinner thought. After which I caught a glimpse of the calamitous crop that blighted my teenage years: couscous.

Rising up in a Mediterranean household comes with a mom who’s a superb cook dinner, who obsesses with diet, and within the title of well being, usually feeds you essentially the most odious concoctions. As destiny had it, couscous, together with fish soup and bean soup – all nefarious substances to simple-minded youth, had been a weekly given.

Although I acquired a style for all the remainder, couscous remained a problem. Even so, week after week, as I sat on the desk for hours, poking round my plate of smelly couscous, I definitely digested the truth that couscous is critical. And sure, there isn’t any means round it, couscous is nice for you. Full of nutritional vitamins, minerals, calcium, and different vitamins, this grain guards digestive well being and protects in opposition to illness.

So right this moment, as I stared again at my childhood foe, I already smelled a brand new problem: Purchase it, squeeze the vitamins out of it – and discover a solution to take pleasure in it.

Photos of meals packages, cookbook illustrations, and even the creations of my faculty culinary-school-bound buddy Martin popped into my head. High chef, Saveur, wild rice – it was the latter that made me pause. Sure, I remembered that wild rice. It was a Wednesday, and Martin had discovered yet one more solution to make me change my thoughts and date him: creating magic within the dorm kitchen, with skinless rooster breasts and wild rice. The style had been mediocre ultimately – and I, admittedly, could have left him to do the dishes. However what was now related to my scenario is the colour of that wild rice: white with specks of brown. What was that brown?

Because of a Crunchy Breakfast recipe I had edited every week earlier than, all of the sudden, I remembered a brown ingredient: flaxseed. These omega-3 fatty acid superstars, which comprise numerous of disease-fighting advantages, would improve the advantages of couscous AND complement the look of the dish. So I grabbed a packet and headed out of the shop – after paying a couple of dollars in fact – as quickly as potential.

Just a few hours later, the acquainted whiff arose in my kitchen. But it surely was a special odor this time. By then I had gotten extra artistic, and added garlic and tomatoes into the pot. And it had all solely taken me about quarter-hour. Now with out additional ado, I’ll share with you the how-to:


4 cups water

1/2 cup couscous

1/2 medium-sized onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 complete tomato, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to style



1. Boil water, then add couscous, oil, chopped garlic and seasonings.

2. Cook dinner for a number of minutes, then add the onion and tomatoes.

3. After just a few extra minutes, add the flaxseed.

4. Let cook dinner for not more than 7 minutes, then take out and punctiliously drain extra water.

The entire cooking time was about quarter-hour. The flaxseed added a crunch to the couscous, whereas the tomatoes contributed a candy, full style – including extra famous person well being factors.

But ultimately, I nonetheless wasn’t stunned by the style of couscous. Sitting at my kitchen counter, tasting the bits once more, I felt like I had misplaced the problem and was now caught with a three-day provide of dreadful couscous. One thing was lacking.

Defeated, I wrapped up the meals, and walked to my room. But it ate at me, and I coudln’t let it go. I logged onto the Web and questioned what I ought to write. And after aimless, misguided paragraphs, I made a decision to begin from the start, retrace my steps, and perceive the important nature of what I had made.

And slowly, the concept all of the sudden hit me: I had cooked the couscous, and despite the fact that the pot had included different tasty issues, the flavors had melded into one delicate style. After which, the answer: All of the dish wanted was a kick. A kick of recent greens, a little bit of spice, and possibly an added element for a full meal. Thank goodness for that bell pepper I had purchased for a salad that had gone unmade what with couscous stealing the present that afternoon. And holy smokes, what luck that I nonetheless had one other full tomato, the opposite half of the onion, AND – the key ingredient – spicy jalapenos. And had been these two rooster legs I noticed within the freezer?

You’ll be able to guess the outcomes, or you’ll be able to have a look at the image. And since each are equally good, I’ll proceed the how-to, and share the success with you right here:


1 complete tomato

6 (relying on style) jalaenos

1/2 onion

2 rooster legs, baked, shredded

Simply two issues to bear in mind: Chop the tomato, jalapenos, and onion coarsely to maintain the kick of the style. Add the rooster legs, and drizzle with olive oil – and a little bit of lemon, for extra kicker factors. By now, although, you are up to now forward, that even with out the lemon, you have gained the problem. Which, because it seems, is by no means about successful or shedding, and even mother’s dreadful recipe.

It is about understanding the character of what you are cooking, and what you wish to accomplish.

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