good morning, afternoon, evening, or goodnight, depending on where the sun is currently in your geographic portion of this watery sphere we live on! this is the newly-minted mr. stokes taking over again to bring you some more food fantasies!
because this is, technically, my honeymoon with the globestumbler, i’ve been thinking back to when i first went to ann arbor to see her. i made a couscous dish as part of my ‘big dinner’ plan for wooing jessica suzanne stokes. while i had much more neckbeard back then, i also had less of an idea of what relationships meant. while i didn’t win her then (and never did because i decided partnership was a lot better than victory), i at least made the initial overtures of interest that grew into our romantic love.
sitting here in greece and thinking back to those first meetings and awkward encounters, i decided it was time to make something that tasted a little like our first ‘date’. that first mealtime, jess was singing a quite suggestive song, and i was quite oblivious. while i’m still a bit embarrassed about how slow i was on the uptake in those days, i wanted to take up making couscous with some of the local produce and flavors.
if you’d like to do the same, here’s what you need:
- 250g (about one and a half cups) of couscous
- three bell peppers
- one medium-sized zucchini
- one red onion
- three (or more) cloves of garlic
- feta cheese to garnish
- some salt
- some oregano
- some rosemary
- some olive oil
once you have these ingredients gathered together, preferably with your dearly
beloved, it is time to perform the rituals of food preparation upon them. while a sacrificial kris is usually sharp enough for the job, the wavy blade makes for unwieldy cuts, and so i’d suggest any variety of kitchen knife. one form of proper preparation is displayed below:
now, since we have only two burners in our little studio apartment in the sky, we have to cook our couscous in stages. for that purpose, we divide the veggies into three sets: first the zucchini, to cook on its own and absorb the oil and herb flavors; second, large chunks of pepper and slices of onion for texture and flavor; finally, the minced onion and garlic with some finely chopped peppers to give flavor to the couscous.
once all of your veggies are ready, it’s time to hit the pan. this is one of my favorite times of cooking, because with that righteous scent of olive oil and the sound of crisp veggies first hitting that hot surface, it’s a symphony of senses:
if you have more burners available, then you can saute up all of your veggies on
one side about halfway through the cooking of the couscous. for the couscous pan, you’re going to want to cook up the nicely diced vegetables in a little more oil than you think is necessary. this is because you want to toast your couscous a bit right before you hit it with water and white wine.
once the couscous has become soft, it can be taken out of the pan and topped with those deliciously sizzled veggies from your other pan(s). but if you really want to swing for the fences, you break out your super-secret (yet optional, for those of you who are full-fledged vegetarians) ingredient:
boom. secret ingredients. because the shrimp is a quick cook, it makes it an easy surprise addition to an already fantastic meal. topping off the veggies, shrimp, and couscous with our favorite garnish, feta, makes for one gorgeous dish in the sunset. try this recipe, if you will, and i hope it carries to you the sound of rustling bamboo, the rumbling aegean, and the taste of late summer whenever you make it.