Goodbye winter. Goodbye cold, grey sadness, welcome Aprihop. Aka SPRING. Dogfish Head nails this delicious spring seasonal every year. Mmmm Aprihop. My absolute favorite springtime beer. AND it pairs crazy well with the couscous I’m about to tell you about. As you might have guessed, Aprihop has apricots, and lots of hop action: It is both continuously hopped as its brewed, then dry hopped as it ferments. It’s like a Magic Hat #9 mixed with a delicious, fruit forward, but very hoppy IPA. (You might not know that Magic Hat #9 has apricot extract in it, but then again you probably do, ’cause you’re awesome like that). Aprihop is available March-May, so go out and find some!
On to the couscous. Sooo how do you feel about cauliflower? I say this a little sheepishly, because personally, I used to have a serious vendetta against it (and still do if cooked improperly). I’m not generally freaked out by texture, but for some reason the texture and flavor of cauliflower always grossed me out. Remember back when the Atkins diet was cool and people kept trying to make mashed cauliflower be mashed potatoes, but it was actually just grainy white mush? That made me crazy. Even a stick of butter can’t make it good. Paula Deen does not approve.
But roasted? Oh yes. You see, one day, I realized that basically any vegetable roasted at 400 degrees until crispy, is absolutely delicious. True story. And so easy! Much easier than babysitting something on the stove top. The beauty of this recipe is that you can basically use any of your favorite roasted veggies. Especially if you can’t find golden beets which can be hard to come by (but are so worth it if you can! They’re sweeter than the red beets and no stains!). I recently came across this great step by step tutorial from Food52 about veggie roasting that will help you make perfect veggies every time.
This recipe happened randomly one night as I started peeling, chopping, and throwing things in pans, as usual, without a real plan. I’ve been tinkering with another couscous recipe that uses a whole grain traditional style couscous, but Mike (hubby) is just not a big fan of it. Not because it isn’t good, but because he hates couscous. For this dinner I suggested traditional couscous and got the stink eye, so decided instead to make Israeli couscous, which is really just tiny balls of pasta, and therefore right up Mike’s alley. We had picked up some stunning golden beets from Findlay Market that day, and it just felt right to add them into this meal. It struck me as I started roasting some veggies that I didn’t often consider using Moroccan spices. Indian, absolutely, Thai? Yes, but never Moroccan, which is interesting because I actually spent a day in Morocco about ten years ago, but that’s another story. I Googled “Moroccan Spices” and found that the four most basic Moroccan spices are: salt, pepper, turmeric, and ginger. Simple enough. I used all of these spices for the meal, and added some other commonly used ones, like cinnamon and bay leaf.
You might wonder why this recipe results in a TON of food. Well last weekend, when I was testing round two of this meal, we found out that a friend and his three friends (all starving medical students) would be staying the night. They were camping over spring break and making their way down to Bourbon County, but because of the freakish snow and sleet, we insisted they stay with us. Between the six of us that night, we ate almost every crumb of this meal.
Moroccan Spiced Couscous with Roasted Vegetables
serves 6-8 hungry people
- 1 head cauliflower, rinsed, then chopped into medium sized florets and dried well
- 6 large golden beets, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch wedges
- 6 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch slices on a bias
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, or 2-3 smaller onions, diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp fresh (or frozen) grated ginger
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 (or 2 if they’re small) cinnamon sticks, whole
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup raisins (diced dried apricots would probably be awesome too)
- 2 3/4 cups Israeli couscous (two bags as pictured) I found mine in the Kosher section of the grocery store for $1.40 each
- About 4 cups of Chicken or vegetable stock (warmed in a sauce pan)
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Start by tossing your veggies in olive oil, enough to coat generously, and sprinkling with salt (1-2 tsp total) and freshly cracked pepper to your liking. You’ll have enough veggies for two large sheet pans. Place in oven, after 20 minutes, shake and flip so the veggies brown evenly. Roast for another 20-25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. After flipping the veggies, start working on the couscous. Add a Tbsp of olive oil and then your onion to a medium-large non-stick sauce pan. Let the onion cook, stirring occasionally for five minutes on medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, and your spices (except the cilantro) and let cook for another minute. You might add a tbsp of butter, or a bit more oil at this point. Add the couscous, and let it toast up for a minute or two in the spices and oil. Then add your liquid, either vegetable broth or chicken, raisins (or cut up dried apricots!), and a pinch or two of kosher salt. Turn heat up to medium high. It’s best if you warm up the liquid ahead of time, but sometimes I forget to do this. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t. Let it come up to a boil, then cover and turn down to low. Let cook covered for 12 minutes or until al dente and delicious. Once the veggies are to your liking, mix them together with the couscous in a very large bowl. At this point, mix in your cilantro. The cilantro adds such a nice finish to this dish, it really brightens up the flavor, so don’t skip it!
Voila! Dinner is served!
Ooo! Ooo! I bet you have some lamb leftover from Easter dinner?! Oh.My.Gosh. A match made in heaven. Enjoy!