I’ve been wanting to write a post about my recent trip to NYC for Slow Food, my upcoming pizza class; the wedding cake I made this summer; the annual Deumling Goat Roast (you have to scroll down a bit on this link for the photos); what’s in my freezer and why; how I source my products; why cooking is as much art as science, . . . .And instead of any of those I’m going to write about what I made for dinner last night. I’ll eventually cover the above topics (though you might have to remind me) but I felt compelled to write about last night’s dish and the process of making it because it seems that the last-minute, creative, sometimes-under-duress kind of cooking that I often talk about is of interest.
I had an exhilarating but long weekend of teaching and often the Monday after I have little inspiration left. I am a bit under the weather too and didn’t know what to make. It had to be quick and couscous is by far the fastest starch in my pantry. I had one big, beautiful tomato, some summer squash (which I quickly diced and sautéed) and feta so I figured all together that would be a good start.
Then I remembered some hard-boiled eggs in the fridge from a few days ago and the basil that needed picking in the backyard. I made a very lemony dressing with garlic, a bit of hot chili pepper, black pepper and good olive oil and within about 15 minutes total I had a lovely, fresh, light meal in a bowl!
And I have to admit I was being casual with my measurements and did not stick to the 1 cup of couscous to one cup of liquid rule and used more water. At first I feared the couscous would be too gummy once I started fluffing it with a fork, however, after a few minutes left uncovered and fluffed some more it was just fine. The dressing was perfect and the occasional salty, tangy bites of feta and rich bites of egg made for a nice, summery combo. At the end I decided it needed a bit more heft and sliced up a frozen Italian pork sausage, quickly fried it and added that to. My husband was concerned this ad-hoc dish might suffer from what we somewhat disdainfully refer to as ingredient pile-up, but luckily it did not and each ingredient added something relevant. So, whether or not you make this as described or use it as inspiration to combine whatever you have on hand, is immaterial. The fun part, for me at least, is coming up with something delicious even when I don’t feel like cooking and haven’t planned a thing. And if any of you know of a source for whole wheat couscous please let me know. I’ve heard such a thing exists but have not tracked it down!
And since you have to read this whole post to get a sense of this “recipe” I’m going to give you another one that I’ve been making and teaching a lot of late. It’s another perfect and fairly quick summer supper from the ever clever Mark Bittman. I’ve changed his recipe for Tomato Paella just a bit by omitting the oven step and just do the whole thing on the stove top. Works perfectly and avoids heating up the kitchen on a summer night (not that we’ve had much heat to begin with!) And I imagine you could add a handful of shrimp and/or clams during the last few minutes of cooking, cover the pan, and steam those, for a slightly more authentic paella.
Happy Cooking and Eating!