[chanting]Couscous! Couscous! Couscous![/chanting]
For some reason, every time I think of couscous, I have this image pop into my head from the (original) King Kong, of the drums going and the chant of "Kong" echoing through the valley. Though with "Kong" replaced by "Couscous".
Yeah. My brain is a fun place to visit, but believe me, you don't want to live there...
So until recently, never really got into the whole couscous experience. Tried it occasionally, but didn't really do much for me. However, with the new gaping-hole-lack-of-rice in my diet, I'm experimenting with all sorts of grains/pastas/seeds to try and fill that void.
So, without further ado, here's my first couscous recipe:
Baked Veges and Couscous Warm Salad, served with Seared Tofu and Asparagus.
(oooohhhhh, fancy pants...)
1 large potato, cubed
sweet potato, cubed (twice the amount as the potato)
1 medium to large beetroot, cubed
2 medium carrots, sliced into rounds
1/2 cauliflower, cut into little florets
handful of garlic cloves, still with skin on (or you can use an onion, cut into wedges)
1 cup couscous
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Nuttelex
3 to 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar (or you can just use kecap manis - sweet soy sauce)
2 to 3 tablespoons of vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
150gm firm tofu (see Process for preparation of tofu)
Asparagus, with the woody ends taken off, cut into about thirds.
Firstly, the best way to get some serious flavour into tofu, and also to change the texture to be more chewy and fun to eat, is to freeze your block of tofu. Defrost completely, and place between paper towel/clean tea towel and press firmly for at least 30 minutes - place a chopping board on top of the tofu and weight it down. This gets rid of all of the excess moisture, and makes the tofu incredibly sponge-like. I generally slice the defrosted tofu into the shapes I want prior to pressing it, which can make the process quicker. Also, you don't have to freeze it, you can just press it for a while.
Don't, however, try this with silken or silken-firm tofu. That way sobbing and waste of soy product lies.
Anyhoo, back to the recipe. Make up the marinade of the first five ingredients, and place the sliced (about 1cm thick) tofu in the marinade. Seal/cover, and put in the fridge for the duration of the couscous salad cooking.
Once the couscous salad has been made, heat a little oil in a frypan over quite a hot flame, remove the tofu from the marinade (reserve any marinade left over!) and cook the tofu quickly, until it is brown and slightly crisp. It shouldn't take more than about 5 minutes to cook all of the slices. Once they're cooked, take them out of the pan, and throw the asparagus in. Toss the asparagus really quickly over the heat for about a minute, and then remove from the pan.
SaladTake all of the chopped veges, and the garlic, and place in a baking dish. Toss in some salt and peppercorns, and drizzle enough olive oil over the veges to have them glisten. Mix everything together thoroughly, and place in a medium hot oven - about 180 degrees celcius - and cook until all of the veges are tender. This will take anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. This is not a recipe for the fast movers amongst us...Make sure to stir the veges occasionally, and turn the baking dish every half hour or so.
Once the veges are all cooked, take out of the oven and set aside to cool a little.
Place 1 cup of water in a saucepan, and put over a medium heat. Add the tablespoon of Nuttelex and wait for the water to come to the boil. Take the water off the heat, add the couscous, stir until thoroughly mixed, and set aside for about 5 minutes. The couscous will expand quite impressively. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and pour into a bowl.
Add the baked veges, and mix together.
Take the leftover marinade, add some more lemon juice, maybe some sesame oil and a little more soy (if necessary), to make a dressing, and pour over the couscous and veges. Stir through.
Cook the tofu and asparagus as instructed above. Put a big pile of couscous salad on a plate, and top with the tofu and asparagus.
Share and enjoy!