Monday, November 22, 2010

Roasted Patty Pan Squash and Moroccan couscous


I bought the cutest little patty pan squash the other day. They were so small that they fit in the palm of my hand. I've never had this type of squash before and decided to cook it simply to let the true flavors come through. I was a bit worried when I read a few posts expressing disappointment with the lack of flavor in patty pan squash. After speaking to some folks at the farmers market, I learned that they key is to pick smaller, young patty pan as the larger older ones tend to have less of the buttery flavor.

I sliced the pretty patty pan squash into eight wedges and pan roasted it with olive oil, a generous amount of thyme, sea salt, and pepper until browned on both sides. That's about as simple as it gets. And surprisingly, this side dish was the biggest hit out of the entire menu!


Continuing with the Mediterranean theme of the night, I made Moroccan couscous to accompany the patty pan squash. Moroccan food counts as Mediterranean right? I mean, Morocco is on the Mediterranean Sea. The couscous was simmered in a vegetable broth with aromatic cinnamon and bay leaves and served with nutty, toasted pine nuts, sweet dried currants, and tangy Greek feta.

The food paparazzi was too busy eating this to take a photo of the couscous.

This Moroccan couscous recipe is a great base and is amenable to the addition of chick peas, vegetables, and meat. For a heartier main dish, simmer chick peas, carrots, zucchini, turnips, and cabbage in vegetable broth and add to the couscous and serve with spicy harissa.

Moroccan couscous
1 cup couscous, pearl or regular but whole wheat
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced
1 bay leaf (I used dried)
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup currants
4 oz Greek feta, cubed
sea salt
pepper

Heat butter in a medium saucepan until foams. Add shallots, cook for 3 minutes. Add bay leaf and cinnamon and couscous, stirring frequently. Cook until couscous is slightly toasted, about 4-5 minutes. Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick and transfer couscous to a shallow pan to let cool. Before serving, combine couscous with pine nuts, currants, and feta. Toss to mix well. Freshen with a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Taste for balance and seasoning.

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