Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tomato and Green Pepper Couscous

What we have here is a mistake that turned into something pretty good. I had plans to put some chicken in the slow cooker and let it cook all day so I thought I would stop at the Apple Market for the chicken on the way home from my Saturday morning walk with Bob. I thought it would go nicely with the lovely green beans, French breakfast radishes and baby beets I had found at the green market that morning. On the way to the butcher at the back back of Big Apple I passed some beautiful green peppers in the produce section so I thought I would get them and add them to the pot toward the end of the cooking time. I bought my chicken, went home, and decided to wait until Sunday to make it.

Sunday morning I was on the phone with my sister when I decided to get started on the chicken. I pulled out the crock pot, layered the bottom with an onion that I had halved and then quartered, and got the chicken out of the refrigerator to get it ready for the crock pot. I opened it up, took a look at it, and groaned.

"What's wrong?" my sister asked.

"I bought a whole chicken," I said.

"Oh," she responded. I could tell she wanted to be properly sympathetic but had no idea why that was a bad thing. So I explained that white meat does not do well in the slow cooker - the long cooking time leaves it dry and tasteless. I had meant to get chicken quarters and forgot by the time I was standing at the counter.

So I turned on the oven, transferred the onions to a baking dish and laid the chicken on top (and thus was born my new method of baking a chicken that I just wrote about here), threw it in, and had baked chicken for dinner. It was delicious, and I served it with sweet corn and a saute of the radishes, green beens, beets and some celery I already had in the refrigerator.

The chicken and the vegetables last a few days. It wasn't until I was eating the last of the chicken that I remembered I still had those green peppers, with no idea of how I was going to use them. I started thinking of kinds of grains with which I could combine them, and when whole wheat couscous crossed my mind I was pretty sure I had some strong possibilities.

I am always looking for different flavored liquids in which to cook couscous. They can be a bit bland and tasteless when cooked in water. I thought a nice green pepper and tomato combination would complement each other and the couscous. Then I took it a step further and decided to use the juice from a can of diced tomatoes in the couscous. Paired with some white wine and chicken stock, it worked out better than I expected. I opened up a can of tuna for the protein and I had a respectable dish before me.

I only had one can of tuna the night I made this (and when I took the picture); it wasn't really enough to stand out against the stronger flavors of the green peppers and tomatoes. So I stopped at the store on the way home from work the next day and bought more and added another can, which did the trick.

This is really fast to make, and allows possibilities for many improvisations. It can easily become a side dish without the tuna, or you can add other kinds of protein for a nice one-dish dinner.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes
This could also be used as a side dish; just leave out the tuna.

1 cup whole wheat couscous
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, cut in half lengthwise, each half cut into thirds and sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green peppers, cut into 1" pieces
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, drained, with liquid reserved
3/4 cup white wine, divided
1 Tbsp fresh basil, or 1/2 tsp dried
2 Tbsp fresh thyme divided, or 1-1/2 tsp dried
salt and pepper to taste
2 6-oz. cans tuna packed in oil
Parmigiana Reggiano

Heat oil in large skillet. Add onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the drained tomato juice with the 1/2 cup wine. Add water to make 2 cups. Put in 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add green peppers to skillet. If using dried thyme and basil, add now. Saute another 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.

Add 1 teaspoon salt and couscous (and 1/2 teaspoon thyme if using dried) to boiling tomato wine mixture. Stir, lower heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add half the fresh thyme, cover, and let stand for five minutes.

Add tomatoes to skillet, along with the remaining thyme. Pour in 1/4 cup white wine. Let simmer while couscous are steaming.

Drain tuna and flake into the tomato mixture. Fluff couscous and add to skillet. Add more liquid if necessary and cook fo another minute or two to let the flavors blend.

Place serving on plate, then grate some
Parmigiana Reggiano over the top .

Exported from Home Cookin 5.6 (

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