Monday, June 21, 2010

Lemony Couscous with Chickpeas and a Hidden Gem Cookbook

Today on Serious Eats: Potato Salad with Green & White Beans. It’ll make a crowd giggle with delight.

You know, how sometimes, when you discover something no one else knows about, you get all excited, but a little hesitant to share your newfound knowledge, because it wouldn’t be JUST YOURS anymore?

I used to feel that way about music. My friend H. introduced me to Jeff Buckley in 1995, my freshman year of college. His Grace album became a touchstone of our existence, with the final track, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, as its crowning achievement. And even though H. shared Buckley with me, I was hesitant to pass him on to anyone else. I felt like it would take the specialness away.

Well, here’s the thing. If something’s really good, odds are people will find out about it anyway. Buckley drowned in 1997. In 2002, The West Wing used Hallelujah for a death scene. Two years later, it popped up on the season finale of The O.C. Now, Simon Cowell counts it among his favorite tunes, and it appears on American Idol every other second.

I’m okay with this. Because, I figure, the mass acceptance of Hallelujah will nudge Buckley toward … man, I hate the word “immortality” in this context, but I can’t think of another one … so, immortality. It’s good for him. It’s good for his family. It’s good for music.

Subsequently, I resolve to share things that are good. It makes no sense keeping them to myself. And Moosewood’s Simple Suppers may be my new favorite thing on Earth, never mind just the Cookbook category.

I’m trying to experiment with a wider range of recipe tomes, so I’m not so reliant on my favorite sources. A quick trip to the library yielded Simple Suppers, which has now produced three smashing dishes. I go into the other two in detail at Serious Eats. White Bean and Mushroom Ragout is here. Potato Salad with White and Green Beans can be found at the top of this post. They are both drool-worthy.

The latest dish is Lemony Couscous with Chickpeas. It’s a delicious simple grain salad you can customize to your heart’s content, because it will still retain its essential, uh, lemony … couscousy … chickpeaness. Yeah. One batch gave us food for DAYS, and we served it both hot and cold.

So readers, what are your favorite little-knowns? Let us know, and maybe we can make them big-knowns. It could be a good thing.


If this recipe seems enticing, these will tempt your pants off:

Lemony Couscous with Chickpeas
Makes at least 8 side servings.
Adapted from Moosewood’s Simple Suppers.

1 1/2 cups plain or spinach couscous
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups boiling water
2 lemons
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped black olives (about 20 large)
1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Optional (but use at least one):
2 tablespoons dill, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped

1) In a medium bowl, combine couscous and salt. Pour water on top. Cover. Walk away for ten minutes. Water should be gone and couscous fluffy when time is up.

2) Meanwhile, zest both lemons into a smaller bowl. Then juice them to get 1/4 cup, and pour that into the same bowl. Add olive oil. Whisk together.

3) Fluff couscous. Add chickpeas, olives, dressing, and herbs. Stir thoroughly to combine. Salt and pepper to taste if desired (but you might not need it). Sprinkle with almonds. Serve hot or cold.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
With parsley and scallions: 263 calories, 8.1 g fat, 4.6 g fiber, 7.5 g protein, $0.80

Note: I used parsley and scallions for my dish. Those are being factored in here.
1 1/2 cups plain couscous: 976 calories, 1.6 g fat, 13 g fiber, 33.1 g protein, $2.28
1/2 teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
2 1/2 cups boiling water: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, FREE
2 lemons (zest & 1/4 cup juice): 16 calories, 0 g fat, 0.3 g fiber, 0.2 g protein, $0.66
3 tablespoons olive oil: 358 calories, 40.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.36
1 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained: 500 calories, 4.6 g fat, 18.5 g fiber, 20.8 g protein, $0.66
1 cup chopped black olives (about 20 large): 125 calories, 10 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.91
1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted: 85 calories, 7.5 g fat, 1.5 g fiber, 2.9 g protein, $0.23
1/2 cup parsley, chopped: 11 calories, 0.2 g fat, 1 g fiber, 0.9 g protein, $0.99
1/2 cup scallions, chopped: 32 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2.6 g fiber, 1.8 g protein, $0.33
TOTAL: 2103 calories, 64.6 g fat, 36.9 g fiber, 59.7 g protein, $6.43
PER SERVING (TOTAL/8): 263 calories, 8.1 g fat, 4.6 g fiber, 7.5 g protein, $0.80

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Aenne Carver said...

I too love this recipe, and the whole cookbook. I found your blog being lazy. My girlfriend wanted the recipe for my delicious lemony couscous, and I did not want to write it from scratch- so thanks for your work on that front.
I will add you to my blog roll.

chacha1 said...

With all due respect to differing tastes in music ... people who love Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" really ought to listen to Leonard Cohen's original recording. Just the fact that it is not tiresomely ubiquitous ought to make the exercise worthwhile. :-)

Starving Student Survivor said...

I was just looking at the couscous in my pantry and thinking that I hadn't used it in a while. And thank you for posting a recipe that doesn't require heating up the whole oven!

Kalyn said...

It sounds fantastic; and just bought the book on your recommendation!

kittent said...

You also forgot that 'hallelujah' (the cohen version) was featured in "The Watchmen"

That being said, i am looking forward to trying the couscous recipe.


Kris said...

@Aenne: Welcome!

@chacha1: I know the Cohen version, and dig the gravitas, but prefer Buckley's vocals. Same thing with "Everybody Knows," too. Cohen's original is deep, but Johnette Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde) just belts it (and invests it with her own meaning - can't sell her short there). Still, I totally get you. I wish Simon would leave "Hallelujah" well enough alone.

@Starving @Kalyn: Awesome! Hope you guys like both the book and recipe as much I as do.

@kittent: Didn't know that. Still have to see that movie. Read the novel, though...

bad home cook said...

OMG. This is so lunch today. Thank you! Love your blog, btw!

Valerie said...

I know you posted this a year ago, but I just want to say this recipe changed my life.

Okay, maybe not my life. But dang, it's good. I'm not usually one for repeating recipes, but I've made this at least 10 times, if not closer to 20, in a year.

Even better - this recipe has become a template for pasta/grain salads for me. Last night, I swapped the couscous for orzo, the chickpeas for cannelini beans, the parsley for basil, and the almonds for pine nuts (all in the same proportions as the original recipe), and it was a completely different, equally delicious experience.

So... thank you! :)