Friday, July 25, 2008

Couscous with peppers, onions, pine nuts & thyme

This will just be a quick post.

If you are looking for an easy meal to make on a work night, give this a try. Satisfying, super easy, only 1 pan required and quick. Make extra couscous for lunch the next day. This is also a great option for a picnic!

Ingredients & Preparation:
Serves 4

  • 1 cup of Israeli couscous
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 chopped onion or 2 chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only (fresh from my garden!)
  • some olive oil
Add some olive oil to a heavy bottom, deep frying pan. Add pine nuts and saute until golden. Set aside. Add onions and cook until soft. Set aside with the pine nuts. Add 4 cups of vegetable stock to the same pan, bring to a boil. Add the couscous and bring back to the boil. Cook for 8 minutes or until al dente. Strain. Put couscous, onions, and pine nuts back into the pan. Toss in the red peppers (I don't cook these - I like them crunchy!) and thyme leaves. Stir until mixed through. I didn't need to add any extra salt or pepper. Garnish with thyme. I served mine with falafel (buy a store bought mix and make at home) but the couscous can be enjoyed alone.

Zucchini & Spinach Soup

I had another produce delivery on Wednesday - I don't think having our groceries delivered will ever get old for me! I had ordered quite a few items including spinach and zucchini. I thought I had ordered one of each. Turns out "one" means one batch or bushel. I think I received about 12 yellow & green zucchinis and 3-4 bunches of fresh spinach. My husband was out of town so I knew I wouldn't be able to eat all of that by myself. Soooo, I went looking for a soup recipe. Lucky for me the amazing and wonderful blog "101 cookbooks" exists. See "Blogs I love" for the link.

Based on a 101 cookbooks recipe I made the following soup. Heidi's recipe is perfect. I just added 2 ingredients only because I had them to use up and omitted one ingredient because my herbs haven't grown as much as I would like just yet. Her recipe is below with my 2 additions noted.

Hearty, warm, satisfying, healthy, rich...this soup has everything you need in one bowl!

Ingredients & Preparation (from
Serves 6
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • big pinch of salt (I used my Salish smoked salt and more than a pinch - about 1 tsp)
  • 2 1/2 cups potatoes (2 medium) cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used russets)
  • 2 1/2 cups zucchini (2 medium), loosely chopped (I used 5 because they were smaller)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup cilantro, loosely chopped (did not use this as not available in my herb garden yet!)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup of cream (my addition; if you choose this add at the end of cooking)
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, leaves only (my addition)

In a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes along with pinch of salt - just until they soften up a bit. Stir in the potatoes and zucchini. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft throughout, roughly 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, and wait for it to wilt, just ten seconds or so. Now stir in the cilantro. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Whisk in a big squeeze of lemon juice. Now taste, and add more salt if needed. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

Many thanks to Heidi at 101cookbooks for a new soup to add to the rotation!

Here are a few pictures of my humble, cute, front porch, herb garden.