12 January 2010

briny mediterranean cous cous

This recipe was a very happy accident. It's a combination of ideas contributed by multiple family members, and it turned out great.

I had some pine nuts leftover from our Christmas Eve celebration. (Pine nuts, roasted garlic and goat cheese...yum!) I said, "What in the world am I going to do with all these pine nuts?" My basil has long since passed and I never use pine nuts in anything but pesto. "Cous cous. I always put pine nuts in cous cous," my brother offered. Cous cous went immediately on the grocery list.

I had some mushrooms I needed to use, so I knew those were going in, but I needed to make it more kid-friendly. Thankfully, I take a kid or two to the grocery store with me, so I had some help. In this instance, I had J with me. I was picking up some cans of black olives for tacos when J pointed to this can:

and suggested we try burgundy olives (with his vast 2yr old vocabulary, of course). I immediately thought of the cous cous, and, under the assumption that these olives would be a milder version of kalamatas, agreed to purchase them. This addition gave the cous cous a decidedly Mediterranean flair, so I went with it. I grabbed some feta, Hubs grabbed a cucumber, and the meal was planned.

So, these olives. These olives are weird. Plus they're pink, which is weird. Does anyone know how these olives are typically used? I mean, they weren't bad. They were sort of tangy and salty like a kalamata, but just different enough that Hubs and I didn't really like them. The kids, though? The kids loved them and gobbled them up.

So here's the recipe. In reflection, I think the addition of some chopped red onion would have been nice, so I'm adding that to the recipe, but it's not pictured. Also, if it was summer and I had some really ripe, tasty tomatoes, I would definitely add some of those.

Briny Mediterranean Cous Cous
1 cup uncooked cous cous
1 small cucumber
1/2 of a small red onion
6 ozs pitted kalamata olives (or burgundy, if you want to try the weird ones)
1 cup pine nuts
6 cremini mushrooms
3 cloves garlic (or more, if you like that sort of thing)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small container (6-8 ozs) crumbled feta cheese (grated Parmesan would be an OK substitute, but will dampen the Mediterranean flavors)
  • Quarter, seed (scrape seeds out with a spoon), and slice the cucumbers into bite-sized chunks.
  • Finely chop onion.
  • Cut olives into quarters
  • Slice mushrooms thinly.
  • Crush and mince garlic.
  • Prepare cous cous according to package directions. Usually this means boil 1 cup of water, add 1 cup of cous cous, cover, turn off heat, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring constantly. This only takes a few minutes. They are done when they smell toasty and nutty and start to brown a little.
  • Transfer pine nuts to a plate.
  • Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into the warm pan.
  • Add mushrooms and garlic, sauté until soft.
  • Add all other ingredients, including the finished cous cous.
  • Cook and stir 5 minutes.
  • Spoon onto plates/bowls and top with feta, as desired.


Grandpa Bill said...

You have a brother who knows about cous cous? Who cooks it, with or without pine nuts. Maybe Bub...

Marisa@make*happy said...

No, it was Jake! Can you believe it?

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