My love affair with food is no secret. Nor is my love for flavorful dishes I can prepare quickly, for those times I need to eat something soon. This cous cous, dressed simply with olive oil and lemon juice, then crowned with crunchy pine nuts and bursting pomegranate seeds, fits that bill.
Cous cous is an ideal base for many a main event: think spice-rubbed chicken, thinly-sliced steak, roasted asparagus or smoky grilled eggplant. When I’m short on time or resources, it’s just right as a light lunch, served with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle of dried mint on the side. Either way, in a matter of 10-15 minutes, we’re eating.
If you’re new to cous cous, it’s the easiest thing to prepare. Pour equal amounts (in this case, 1 cup each) dry cous cous and boiling liquid (either stock or water) into a bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Then fluff it up with a fork and serve. As for the pomegranates, trust me when I say de-seeding them is less meticulous than it sounds. Slice the pom in half and place the seed-side down in the palm of your hand. Then, grab a wooden spoon, and smack the skin-side repeatedly. The seeds will come tumbling out through your fingers, and you’ll have released a bit of aggression.
Lately I prefer to use whole wheat cous cous, which has nearly equalized in price to the white kind. Both are cooked exactly the same way, and can of course be used in this recipe – simply use the variety you like. I also dry toast my pine nuts, but if you’re looking for the more traditional (and indulgent) way, fry them in a bit of butter or olive oil until golden brown.
- 1 cup whole wheat cous cous (white is fine)
- 1 cup water, chicken or vegetable stock, boiling
- Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Squeeze of lemon, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: fresh coriander, for garnish
- Place the cous cous in a medium-sized bowl. Pour the hot water or stock over the cous cous, stir once, then immediately cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Slice the pomegranate in half. Place the cut side of the fruit in the palm of your hand, spreading your fingers wide. With the skin side facing up, tap the skin (with some force) with the back of a wooden spoon, releasing the fleshy seeds into your palm and through your fingers. Reserve the remaining half for later use.
- In a small frying pan, dry toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat, shaking constantly, until golden brown.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the cous cous. Use a fork to gently fluff up the grains. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine.
- Serve sprinkled with the pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts, lemon wedges and fresh coriander, if using.
Audio pairing: Melody’s Echo Chamber, “Endless Shore”