Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Cous Cous

The heat wave continues which means consecutive warm evenings and a strong lust for light flavorful dinners. 

This summer cous cous pairs great with simply grilled prawns or a chicken breast. And when I say simple, I mean simple.  Just toss your chosen protein in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill (if you don't have an outdoor grill, a cast iron grill pan works wonders). Squeeze fresh lemon and/or lime juice over the top right at end. Done and done.

Now, back to the cous cous. Cook it according to the directions on the box. This usually is something along the lines of bringing salted water to boil, adding the cous cous, turning off the heat, covering it, and letting it sit for 5 minutes.  Once cooked, spoon it into a bowl and fluff it with a fork until there are no lumps. Now let it cool to room temperature.

OK, so I'm sure you've been seeing those darling little champagne grapes at the grocery store and you are probably wondering what you can do with them besides plopping them on a cheese plate (tres chic!) or snacking on them (cause they're so darn cute!) but then, inevitably, you regret the choice later because they are sort of a lot of work (the stems stick like every other time you pull a grape from the bunch) and you promise yourself that next time you will just buy regular grapes for snacking.

Right? I mean, really though.

Well now you can actually use them for something! I usually make this cous cous with pomegranate seeds but those aren't in season and champagne grapes are, so, little baby grapes... it's your turn to shine.

This recipe doesn't have exact amounts, it is all to taste, so taste as you go and stop when you are happy with it.  Grab a large bowl and add cooled cous cous, champagne grapes, chopped marcona almonds, chopped pistachios, lemon zest, orange zest, chopped mint, chopped chives, and marigold flower petals (they sell them in the fresh herb section at Whole Foods). The petals have a slight citrus flavor and pepperiness to them which goes nicely with the cous cous.

Next, make a simple dressing. Whisk together 1 part champagne vinegar to 2 parts grapeseed oil along with the juice from half a lemon, a smidge of dijon, a bit of honey, and kosher salt. Dress the cous cous and season to taste (aka add salt until it tastes just right).   

Don't be shy with the ingredients. I like mine nice and nutty so I go pretty heavy on the chopped nuts. Other nice additions (or substitutions) are ingredients like dried tart cherries, dried currants, scallions, parsley, chopped dates, crumbled sheep's milk feta, etc. The goal is to end up with something that is balanced, both in texture and taste. 

Get creative. There are no rules with this which is pretty much my most favorite part about cooking in general...the lack of rules....the reckless abandon. Just make something delicious.

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