Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meatless Middle Eastern

I've given up meat for lent this year, so you will be seeing more meatless meals in the upcoming weeks. I've been trying to eat less meat for a while now, and I'm looking forward to expanding my vegetarian horizans. This couscous salad and falafel meal was a well rounded and flavorful meatless meal.

The couscous salad is a staple in my house, and I'm shocked I haven't shared it on my blog yet. I got this recipe from my mom, and she got it from her friend Ina. Ok, maybe not her friend... but Ina's cookbook is around enough that she feels like a friend :) This couscous is a staple for parties and potlucks, and I make a big batch as a treat for Joe every once in a while. It's a great side dish with grilled chicken or pork, and also goes great with middle eastern dishes like falafel. The leftovers make a perfect lunchtime salad, too, and adding some sliced lunch meat or cheese makes it a complete meal.

I made the couscous salad to go with some falafel and pitas. I did the falafel from a boxed mix, and thought it tasted pretty decent. After dinner I found this recipe from Mark Bittman, which I'll have to try next time I want falafel. I added spinach leaves, red onion, and a yogurt sauce to the pitas, and since I baked the falafels it turned out satisfying and fresh tasting. This meal made me dream of the warmer wather that's just around the corner!

Curried Couscous
from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins (I use golden raisins)
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.


Liz said...

I have never tried curry couscous... but I love curry AND couscous! Looks great.

Sarah said...

I have to say that I don't think I could ever give up meat. I do, however, think that I need to try this couscous recipe soon! I'm always on the lookout for great side dishes and this fits right in.

elly said...

This looks so good! I've only recently gotten into curry, so I'll have to give this a try.

A World in a PAN said...

It seems to me that "cous cous" comes from Northern Africa, they have it in Morocco, Tunisia, and Lybia. It is the name of the wheat grain and the dish that is prepared with it (steamed).
In the Middle East they use Borghol, and in a very different way.
I love your recipe of Curried cous cous, very creative!

Tami said...

Giving up meat for lent is a great idea! And I would never have thought to make a vegetarian falafel. Just goes to show you that you can still fulfill cravings for your favorite foods even if you're not eating meat.

I just started working on a campaign called Meatless Monday, which is a non-profit that encourages Americans to cut meat from their diets once a week to help their health and the environment. Cutting back on saturated fats by 15% - which is equivalent to going meatless one day a week - reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke.

We have some great recipe ideas on our website, including some Middle Eastern inspired ideas, like our Scallop Kebabs and Pumpkin Hummus.
You should check it out!