The weather's been hot enough here lately to remind anyone of the Sahara – it was 45 degrees Friday. So hardly surprising that we didn't feel like having the usual suspects of dal and sabzi for dinner over the hot, hot weekend. In fact, the kiddos and I had an inebriated-type long 3 hour nap Saturday afternoon, in celebration of the awful weather. So when it came to figuring out what we wanted to eat for dinner this weekend, I definitely leaned towards lean cuisine. Suddenly I remembered couscous which, while not a husband favourite, does qualify as a light meal. We had had a really lovely meal of what I then thought was cous cous last week in Seattle – on reflection I figured it was probably bulgur wheat, but the thought of couscous inspired me.
I had planned to make hummous over the weekend, so I decided I wanted to give my cous cous a middle-Eastern flavour. But it was too hot to look through cookbooks so I had me a mini-brainstorm. What flavours truly went with Middle-Eastern? Hmmm…mint, for one. Pomegranates would add a Persian touch…and somehow the thought of Persia has always enthralled me…Pistachios would add crunch and further the connection. Lime…
It was really fun improvising this cous cous, and I realized that cous cous is going to get added to my mental list of 'foods I like cooking because I get to be creative'. It turned out really well too, and had that zing of freshness that a hot weekend like this one really needed in a meal. The pomegranates added a lovely burst of tart sweetness to offset the strong mint flavour and the crunch of pistachios was a lovely addition. With this and some litchi icecream for dessert, we had a wonderful summer dinner.
250 gm couscous
Water (enough to cover the couscous and 1 inch over)
Handful mint leaves
Handful coriander leaves
1-2 Snake gourds, diced
Juice of 1-2 limes (depending on size and juiciness)
Half cup pomegranates
Half cup pistachios, lightly toasted/ dry roasted in a frying pan
1 onion, julienned
Salt to taste
Add the water to the couscous and let it soak in for about 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff it up once the couscous has absorbed all the water. Meanwhile, finely mince the mint and coriander leaves. Add the herbs, the onion, snake gourds ( like long, crisp cucumber), the pomegranates and the lime juice to the couscous. Make sure the lime is juicy – the ones I used were very tart and flavourful but not juicy and so the couscous was a little drier than I would have liked. Add salt to taste, mix and fluff up with a fork again. If you like a touch of spice, add zatar mix or just a touch of paprika. Chill for about half hour and serve, with pomegranate juice on the side, to add more Persian-ness to the meal.