Welcome, readers, to my inaugural food post!! I hope you’re ready for a delicious, spicy weekday dinner recipe that will really titillate your taste buds. But first, we have something to discuss. And that something is couscous. Couswhat? You may be thinking “blah blah, trendy food alert” but I assure you, you are mistaken!
Couscous has been around for ages, and while it doesn’t look like it, it is actually a tiny pasta. A staple in many parts of the world, especially North Africa and areas of the Mediterranean and Middle East, it is often served with vegetables and aromatic herbs and spices. Traditionally it is prepared by hand and steamed, however supermarkets carry a presteamed and dried packaged version that needs only to be reconstituted in boiling water. I admit I haven’t tried handmade couscous, but after reading about it I am ready to fly to Morocco to try some!
Marrakech dreams aside, the whole wheat couscous in my cupboard will have to suffice. Most grocery stores carry couscous, whole wheat couscous, and flavored couscous. I included pictures of various brands that are common in many grocery stores to help in your search. I encourage you to avoid the flavored ones as they contain a spice packet that is loaded with salt. Just dust off your spices and create your own flavors! Between plain and whole wheat couscous, I suggest the whole wheat version.
Both originate from durum wheat, a hard wheat with a high protein content, however the difference lies in the processing. Plain couscous is made from semolina, which refers to a processing technique, in this case the grains left after the durum wheat is milled. The whole wheat version retains the bran and germ of the durum wheat, resulting in a nutrient-packed product that has triple the fiber content compared to the plain couscous!
You won’t see couscous on a list of superfoods (quinoa, I’m talking to you), but that doesn’t mean it should be disregarded. It has a mild taste that lends itself well to many dishes, and if you prepare the whole wheat version, you’ll be getting 28% of your daily fiber needs in one serving. Now that is an excellent source of fiber! If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to check it out at your local grocery store, and if you like spicy food, then try the recipe below. As a recent poor graduate student, this meal is budget friendly and quick to prepare on a busy weeknight. The ingredients reflect 2 servings, and it makes a great next-day lunch. Most importantly, it’s packed with lots of nutritious goodness from the vegetables, chickpeas, and COUSCOUS!
Ingredients (2 servings)
- Spice rub
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 3 med carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 med red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 med onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1 1/4 cup cooked whole wheat couscous (~1/2 cup dry)
- handful cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp Sriracha (per serving, optional)
Preheat oven to 400⁰
Prepare couscous according to package instructions.
Mix together ingredients for spice rub.
Drain and rinse chickpeas; lay them out on paper towels to dry. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle chickpeas with the spice rub (save some to season the veggies) and toss to coat. Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned and crispy.
While the chickpeas are roasting, peel and thinly slice/julienne the carrots. Thinly slice the bell pepper and onion and dice the jalapeno. The amount of jalapeno used will make the meal more or less spicy, so use as much or as little as you like.
Heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil on med-high in a large skillet. Add vegetables and sauté, occasionally stirring for 4-5 minutes, until vegetables are crisp-tender. If you have leftover spice rub, add some of the seasonings to the veggies while they cook.
Combine veggies, couscous, and roasted chickpeas in a large bowl. Add the cilantro, and if you like, add a bit of Sriracha to your bowl for some added kick.
- 500 calories
- 88 g carbohydrate
- 18 g fiber
- 20 g protein
- 10 g fat
- 340 mg sodium