Monday, October 18, 2010

Moroccan lentils and couscous

Jon has moved to Chicago to start a new job, and I have taken his absence as inspiration to eat down some things in the pantry and freezer that have been sitting around for a while. Looking around for lunch one day, I decided I wanted to use up some couscous. I also had half a bag of lentils in the pantry and a cup of cooked kidney beans in the freezer. To season, I went to the veggies I had on hand and my spice cabinet. Couscous makes me think North Africa, so I just put in everything that reminded me of Morocco, and it turned out pretty well. The hot smoked paprika was especially key, in my humble opinion. I don't know if that is Moroccan, but the spiciness and rich smoky flavor really pulled everything together.

Something like this is a great pantry-cleaning meal. Of course, the problem with pantry-cleaning is that it makes me think I need to buy more things to fill the pantry up again! I'm trying to hold off. I think the pantry still has plenty of meals in it before it needs a restock. (And I like the creative aspect of figuring out what those meals are.)

Are there any pantry items you tend to have around but don't use all that much? Couscous is probably the worst culprit for me.

Moroccan lentils and couscous

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 diced green pepper
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dry brown lentils
1 cup cooked kidney beans

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder (I used Penzey's Balti seasoning, which isn't as fragrant as some curry powders. I think it blends well with other spices if you're not looking for a classic curry flavor.)
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 cup whole wheat couscous

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan or medium saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion, pepper, celery, and carrot and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the spices and stir to coat in oil. Add broth, 1 cup water, and lentils. My kidney beans were on the crunchy side, so I added them at the same time, but if you're using soft or canned ones, wait until later. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until lentils are soft, about 35 minutes, adding more water if the lentils dry out.

In the meantime, prepare couscous. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat, and cover. In about 10 minutes, open the lid and see if the couscous is soft and the water is absorbed. Drain or place over high heat for a few minutes if the couscous has a good texture but is too wet.

Serve a blob of lentil stuff over a blob of couscous. You'll probably want to add salt at the table; there is a ton of flavor in here but no added salt. (You could, of course, also add salt to the lentils or couscous while cooking, but I myself prefer to salt at the table.)

1 comment:

TheAL said...

Sounds delish! I am all over this one. :-). Thanks for sharing it!