Couscous with Vegetables

Typically it will take three months for a package from the states to reach my little PO box in Uganda.  It’ll take about a week and a half to arrive in Kampala and then it’ll sit in a little room in the Kampala post office for months.  While it’s awesome to get packages, I’m always frustrated when I look at the mail slip and read that it arrived in country months ago and I’m just now able to pick it up at the post office.  Luckily, my last two packages have reached me within a month.  The mail gods sure are looking out for me now!

I was especially excited for my latest package to arrive since I requested wild rice and couscous to be sent.  I’ve been craving wild rice for months now and couscous is always a nice change from spaghetti and rice.  Whenever I cook rice back in the states I always substitute chicken broth or vegetable broth for water, as I think it gives the rice a nicer flavor.  I found some cans of sweet corn and “processed peas” (which I take to mean “cooked peas”) at the supermarket.  Instead of draining off the juices, I added them to the pot and topped up with some plain drinking water.  Green olives added a nice flavor and I always have french beans lying around so I threw in some of those too.  After the cooking was finished, I added some fresh chopped tomatoes to lend the dish some refreshing coolness.

The mixture of juicy tomatoes and corn and pea “juice” melded together to form a sauce that flavored this wonderfully.  And the couscous fluffs up enough that I was able to enjoy this meal for lunch and dinner!  As is, it’s a perfect side dish or vegetarian meal, but I can see this being improved with some tuna (I prefer my tuna packed in water; packed in oil is just too oily for my tastes), roasted chicken, or any other protein you so desire!

Couscous with Vegetables

1/2 cup chopped french beans, about 1 to 1.5 inches in length
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup uncooked couscous (I used the “Near East” brand of plain couscous)
1 can sweet corn
1 can cooked peas
1/4 cup sliced green olives
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 small tomatoes or 1 medium tomato, diced

Begin by boiling or steaming your french beans until they are tender.  You want to precook these as raw french beans typically take longer to cook than the 7 or so minutes the couscous will require.  When they have finished cooking, remove them from the water and set aside.

Sautee your minced garlic and shallots in the butter.  Remove from the heat when they have begun to brown.  Drain the sweet corn and cooked peas into a one cup measuring container.  If the “juice” does not equal one cup, top off to one cup with plain drinking water.

Add the couscous, sweet corn, peas, french beans, green olives and parsley to the garlic and shallots in the pan.  Add the 1 cup of liquid (corn and pea “juice” and water).  Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the couscous has drank up all the fluid.  Fluff with a fork.  Add salt and ground black pepper as needed.  You’ll want to taste this before you add salt as many companies add salt to their canned sweet corn or peas.  Add the diced tomatoes and serve warm.

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