Saffron Couscous with Cranberries and Almonds

Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (1 of 14)

COUSCOUS | A versatile and popular alternative to rice and pasta

Couscous. A staple in North Africa, not many know how versatile these small steamed balls of semolina can be. Consisting of many tiny granules made from steamed and dried durum wheat, couscous has become a popular alternative to rice and pasta.

In Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, couscous is steamed over a simmered stew after being tossed with a little water or oil and water. This takes much longer than the ‘instant’ method, whereby couscous is boiled in water or stock for 5 minutes and then steamed for another 5 minutes before being “fluffed up” with a fork.

For myself, the beauty of couscous lies with its cross functional applicability between a pilaf and a salad. For this simple recipe, I have added a pinch of saffron to add a bit of colour and delicate taste. For some tangy sweetness I added some cranberries and for the crunch factor, some crushed roasted almonds. Feel free to throw in some pine nuts too!

Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (2 of 14).jpgSaffron couscous with cranberries and almonds

TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes | SERVES: 4 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chopped shallot
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup of wholemeal couscous (or plain)
  • 1.5 cups of water (if using wholemeal)
  • pinch of salt and black pepper, to taste
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oilSaffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (12 of 14)

METHOD:

1. Soak saffron threads in half cup of boiling water to release the flavours. Remember, a little pinch of saffron goes a long way.

Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (10 of 14)

2. In the meantime, chop the shallots.

Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (11 of 14)

3. Roast the almonds on medium-high heat by stirring gently on a pan (about 1-2 minutes). Once roasted, crush with mortar and pestle. Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (13 of 14)Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (7 of 14)

4. Pour tablespoon of olive oil into a saucepan on medium-high heat. Throw in shallots and stir for one minute.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (9 of 14)

5. Add the remaining cup of water. Once boiling, throw in the couscous, add a pinch of salt and pepper and let it cook for 5 minutes before closing the lid. Let it rest for another 5 minutes.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (8 of 14)

6. Juice the lemon and remove the pips.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (6 of 14)

7. Once couscous is done, remove the lid from the saucepan and pour in the lemon juice, cranberries, and crushed almonds. Fluff with fork until fluffy in texture.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (5 of 14)

8. Serve while warm. Feel free to sprinkle some pine nuts an additional cranberries on top for garnishing.Saffron couscous with cranberries and almonds (4 of 14)

 

Advertisements

Roast Cauliflower with Dates in Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Roast Cauliflower in Lemon-Tahini Sauce (1 of 14)

A peach was once a bitter almond; a cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.” ~ Mark Twain.

Cauliflower, which literally means “cabbage flower”, is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, often overshadowed by it green cousin broccoli. The cauliflower originally came from Cyprus, and was introduced to France from Italy in the middle of the 16th century. Though it tastes rather bland on its own, this white cabbage flower is extremely nutritious and can be considered as a superfood.

First, this white cabbage contains sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumour growth. Moreover, sulforaphane has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. Cauliflower also contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check (too much inflammation is linked to cancer and other diseases).

Due to our busy lifestyles, most of us lack the vital nutrients in our bodies needed to keep it performing at an optimal level. This is where incorporating cauliflower into your diet comes in handy. One serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese.

Cauliflower really doesn’t have much flavour on its own. However, this white superfood absorbs flavours and spices extremely well. It really doesn’t take too much effort to transform plain old cauliflower into something quite scrumptious.

I find that dressing cauliflower with a tahini-lemon garlicky sauce complements the white flower harmoniously while roasting it adds a certain ‘crunch’ to it and gives it a nice golden colour. Throwing in some dates adds a pleasant sweetness to the dish while pine nuts offer an extra dimension to jazz up the simplicity of this healthy side dish.

Roast Cauliflower in Lemon-Tahini Sauce (11 of 14)

INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 4 as a side)

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (about 1 ½ lb.)
  • 4 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoon of tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of pine nuts, roasted

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius.

2) Toss cauliflower with 2 teaspoon of olive oil, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Throw in the dates and layer both evenly on a roasting tray. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
Roast Cauliflower in Lemon-Tahini Sauce (8 of 14)

Roast Cauliflower in Lemon-Tahini Sauce (5 of 14)

3) Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic in olive oil for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add tahini, lemon juice, 5 tablespoon of water, and salt. Simmer over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Roast Cauliflower in Lemon-Tahini Sauce (6 of 14)

4) Transfer cauliflower florets into a mixing bowl. Whisk the sauce and pour over the cauliflower and toss till the florets are thoroughly coated. Sprinkle with the roasted pine nuts and chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roast Cauliflower in Lemon-Tahini Sauce (14 of 14)

Citrus-baked Mackerel with Couscous

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (1 of 1)-2

Also known as maccarello in Italian, mackerel is one of the highly recommended oily fish for a healthy diet. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this fish helps lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Mackerel also contains anti-inflammatory compound which helps lower joint pain and stiffness in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Wheat’s more, consuming mackerel on a regular basis is great for those who are prone to depression or suffer from frequent bouts of mood swings. Research has also proven that people consuming high dosages of omega-3 fatty acids are at lower risk of getting affected by depression. Mackerel is loaded with DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and consuming this fish lowers your chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.

Rather than just pan-frying mackerel with salt and pepper, it doesn’t take that much more time to add a citrus twang to this popular fish. With the juice and zest of an orange plus some ground coriander, cumin and crushed ginger, you can now be serving mackerel with a new moroccan twist.

INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 2)

For the fish:

  • 2 mackerel fillets
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • Pinch of freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

For the couscous:

  • 2/3 cup couscous
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  •  1/3 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (6 of 17)

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius and line a roasting tray with parchment paper.

2) For the fish, make a paste by grating the zest of 1/2 orange along with the cumin, coriander, oil, ginger and some salt. Make 3 slashes on the mackerel fillet and rub the paste all over.

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (1 of 17)

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (4 of 17) Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (3 of 17)    3) Pour the fresh orange juice over the fish and bake for 12-15 minutes until the fish is cooked.

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (5 of 17)

4) Meanwhile, cook the couscous. Put the couscous in a bowl and in a separate pot, heat the stock or water until it boils. Pour the hot liquid over the couscous, close the lid and set aside for 6 minutes till all the liquid gets absorbed. Fluff up the grains with a fork and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Feel free to grate some orange zest and throw in some raisins.

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (10 of 17)

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (11 of 17)

5) Make a bed of couscous and place a mackerel fillet onto each plate, spooning over the pan juices to serve.

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (1 of 3)

Citrus baked mackerel with couscous (3 of 3)



Super Easy Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus  (8 of 15)

Hummus is living proof that the best tasting things in life are simple to make.

What is one thing Natalie Portman is totally obsessed with? Hummus. The beautiful vegan actress once told Vogue that she “consumes [her] own weight in hummus everyday.” Hummus is living proof that the best tasting things in life are simple to make. Drilling down to the basics, all you need to make hummus are seven ingredients and a food processor (or blender in my case as I don’t possess a powerful version of the former (not yet at least)).

Gluten-free, nut free, and dairy free, this tasty dip has a lot going for it, both in terms of taste and nutrition. Chickpeas, hummus’s key ingredient, is full of protein, good-for-you carbs and fiber. Like other members of the legume family, they routinely top lists of the world’s healthiest foods. Garlic and olive oil, are both part of Mediterranean Diet, which numerous studies have concluded to be the healthiest and most sustainable diet in the long run. As a bonus, hummus can help with weight management. Since hummus is so rich in protein (hence ideal for vegetarians), it can help fight hunger cravings and balance sugar levels. Moreover, the calcium in chickpeas and tahini can make your bones from stronger (important for women in their golden years to ward off osteoporosis) while the iron content helps deliver oxygen to red blood cells, thereby helping to alleviate anemia. You can now say goodbye to the store-bought version and make your own hummus at home by following the simple steps set out below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • One 15-ounce can (425 grams) of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • 1/4 cup of tahini (for the easy homemade version, refer to my previous recipe here)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice (basically the juice of one large lemon)
  • One large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • Dash of ground paprika or sumac for serving

Homemade Hummus  (15 of 15) METHOD:

1) Squeeze the juice of one mighty large lemon. Get rid of the pips. Homemade Hummus  (14 of 15) 2) Drain the liquid from the can of chickpeas and rinse well with running water. Homemade Hummus  (12 of 15) 3) In the bowl of a food processor/blender, combine the tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom and process for another 30 seconds. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini to ensure a smoother and creamier hummus.

Homemade Hummus  (13 of 15)

4) Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin and the salt to the mixture. Process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom again, and process for another 30 seconds. Homemade Hummus  (1 of 1) 5)  At this stage, the hummus will be too thick and still have tiny chunks of chickpeas. To fix this, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until the desired consistency is achieved. If you have a food processor, you can leave the motor running whilst you do this. Homemade Hummus  (11 of 15) 6) To serve, scrape the hummus into a bowl or plate and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with paprika or sumac. Hummus makes a great dip for pita bread or vegetables, and you can also use it as a sandwich spread. Homemade Hummus  (10 of 15) Homemade Hummus  (3 of 15) Note: Homemade hummus can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to one week.