Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter Squash Couscous Salad

Pumpkin and butternut squash pair well with couscous
Recently, my husband made it oh so clear that he will not stand for any more rabbit food. So I experiment and try out vegan recipes late evening or mid-afternoon when I can. Last night we had a friend over for dinner, where we ate fresh caught fish, but after dinner the two of them chatted with me while I prepared an amazing couscous salad. They helped me taste test the two squashes and decide which dried fruit to use. By the time I had the finished product, my husband asked me to pack him a large portion for his lunch! Little did he know that I literally had to add some dandelion greens from the bunny's stash (out of the fridge-not his cage!), as I was out of parsley. Tee Hee. 

So it was unanimous. Butternut squash had denser color, texture, and flavour. The pumpkin was lighter and milder. Just look at the picture below. Wouldn't you enjoy roasted squash instead of boring potatoes as your next side dish. You could cut them into french fry lengths just as easily as cubes. I drizzled olive oil on top, seasoned and tossed them. Popped them into a 400 degree F.(or 200 degree C.) oven for 30 minutes, stirring once half way through cooking because they get quite brown on the pan side.

Does anyone else have trouble cutting open hard squashes? If I had a ban saw I would employ it for this purpose! For some reason the notion hit me to first peel them, to make it easier to cut them open. It does take hand strength to peel raw winter squash, but I think it helped. The hardest, and most dangerous part is splitting them in half. Your knife gets stuck in the middle...I don't have a cleaver, maybe that would do a better job. Anyway, good luck with yours.

These butternut and pumpkin squares are yummy already, just roasted with olive oil, salt & pepper.

Couscous & Winter Squash
1/2 a pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 2-3 cups)
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups instant couscous
1/2 cup dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, or cherries
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/3 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven and prepare the raw squash and roast it as described above.

2. Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a large sauce pan. Cook the onions and garlic over moderate heat 5-10 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add stock and bring to a boil.

3. Stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let it steam for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Mix in the squash, fruit, nuts, and greens. Serve warm, but can be eaten cold too.

I found this recipe in a beautiful coffee table cook book called Made in Morocco. The photographs alone kept my rapt fascination. My hostess in New Zealand shared it with me last summer. It called for raisins, but I only had dried cherries and blueberries in my cupboard. My tasters preferred the  cherries. They were tart and sweet, like cranberries would be. I personally don't favor cilantro, which was originally called for, so next time I make this I will use parsley, although the dandelion greens I used in my desperation (not to run to the store), stayed bright and savory even in the leftovers. Maybe you find it hard to follow recipes exactly too. Happy taste trails to you. 

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