Couscous with Spring Vegetables
This aromatic herby couscous with young tender vegetables and no meat makes a lovely main dish. Vegetarians will love it. Use fresh young fava beans and peas (some supermarkets sell them already shelled) or frozen petits pois.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Textureherby, light, savory, sweet
- 2½ cups barley couscous or ordinary couscous
- 2½ cups warm water with ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons mild extra virgin olive oil
- 4½ cups stock made with 2 vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes
- 14 ounces young fava beans (shelled weight), or frozen fava beans, defrosted
- ½ pound scallions
- 14 ounces frozen artichokes or baby artichokes
- Salt and black pepper
- 14 ounces young peas (shelled weight), or frozen petits pois, defrosted
- Large handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Large handful of chopped coriander
- Handful of chopped mint
Put the couscous in a wide, ovenproof dish, and add the same volume of salted water gradually, stirring so that it gets absorbed evenly. After about 10 minutes, when the couscous has become plump and almost tender, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and rub the couscous between your hands to air it and break up any lumps. This can be done in advance and then heated through 20 to 30 minutes before serving in an oven preheated to 400°F until it is steaming hot. For the broth, bring the stock to boiling point, then add the fava beans; the scallions, trimmed of their green ends and sliced; and the artichokes, cut in half or quartered, and cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, taking into consideration the saltiness of the bouillon cubes. Add the peas, and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are just tender. Stir in the herbs just before you are ready to serve.
Before serving, fluff up the couscous with a fork, breaking up any lumps, and stir in the remaining olive oil. Arrange the vegetables on top and pass the broth around in a bowl for everyone to help themselves.
You may like to melt into the couscous at the end ½ stick (4 tablespoons) of butter and omit the olive oil.
2005 Claudia Roden