ZooFit Recipe of the Week: Because Couscous

Preparing for different library talks throughout the month has led me to revisit my ZooFit Safari in looking for recipes to prepare for demonstrations. They have to be pretty easy to assemble, travel well, and of course, taste delicious and be nutritious.

I’m doing four different library talks, and I wanted to prepare four different recipes for my demonstrations. I mean, I have tons to choose from. So, on my first talk I prepared my Greek Wraps with homemade hummus. Then on my next talk I prepared a different type of homemade hummus, which works really well as a replacement for unhealthy dips. For my next talk, I’m planning on another lunch-type recipe, with a favorite ingredient for those who are always in a rush- couscous.

Couscous is my go-to base when I need to make something in a hurry. I get it in the bulk food section, and keep it on hand for last-minute meal prep. It takes literally five minutes to prepare. Okay, five minutes to boil the water, then five minutes to soak the couscous. So, you know, a whopping ten minutes. And it’s such a great base. Couscous may be from the middle east, but it works great with Mexican flavors, curry (okay, that’s middle-east), or any blend of tastes- Asian, Mediterranean, American.

I could write a super long post with all the ways I cook with couscous, but I’ll leave some of it to your imagination. Here is my popular couscous salad from the Locavore Week in ZooFit Safari. Depending on which type of peas are in season, you can use either snap peas, or snow peas.

Israeli Couscous Salad

4 servings- 284 calories; Carbs 14g; Fat 6.8g, Protein 5.2g

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup dried couscous, prepared according to directions
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 oz sugar snap peas (Summer) or snow peas (winter),trimmed
  • ½ tsp lemon rind, grated
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dill weed
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) parmesan cheese, optional

Directions

  1. Toast pine nuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare couscous according to directions. If you get from the bulk food section, typically it takes just a little more (boiling) water than couscous, so if you have 1 cup couscous, you’ll need just a little more than a cup of water.  Place couscous in a large bowl and pour boiling water over it. Stir to make sure all is soaking up the water, then cover with a lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff soaked couscous with a fork and set aside.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add peas, cook 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge into ice water. Drain and slice half of the peas diagonally. 
  4. Combine lemon rind, and the next 8 ingredients (through the minced shallot) in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk. Add peas and toss to coat.
  5. Add toasted pine nuts to pea mixture, toss gently.
  6. Combine peas and couscous mixture with dill. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Serve immediately, or store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days. Although, when I make this easy to do dish, it rarely lasts that long.

Eating food in season and locally produced means we eat healthier all year long, and our food tastes better, while also reducing our impact on the planet, and making a better impact on our community. Think Global, Eat Local. Eat clean. And eat green.

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