There is a way to make couscous, an authentic way, described by Paula Wolfert, which requires not only a specialized couscousiere, but many steps of washing, drying, steaming once, drying and steaming again. You can imagine with each step the little beads swelling more and more completely, filling themselves up with fragrant steam rising from the rippling stew below.
This process coaxes flavor slowly and patiently into the couscous, without allowing it to clump. I am sure the results are worth it. One day, I will be certain.
But for this recipe, the name of the game is quick and easy. Actually, the name is flavorful and delicious, or bright and summery, or healthy and satisfying. All of these things, in one delicious package. Actually, I kind of can't get over how flavorful this couscous is, and that might be because of it's unlikely source. I'm admitting to my slight hippie tendencies when I tell you that I found the original recipe in Jessica Porter's The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics. And if other recipes from this slightly wacky work end up being this good, it will officially be a hidden little gem. I'll be sure to let you know.
In the meantime, embrace your inner Bohemian and enjoy.
Orange and Apricot Couscous
Adopted from Jessica Porter's The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics
1 cup couscous (regular or whole wheat)
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh orange juice (juice from about 1 1/2 large navel oranges)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
6 dried apricots (or more)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons raisins (or more)
1/4 medium red onion, diced
toasted pine nuts, optional
Place the couscous in a medium size bowl. In a saucepan combine the water, orange juice, olive oil and 4 teaspoons of the vinegar, seeing 1/2 teaspoon aside, and a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the dried fruits and ginger. Let simmer for about 1 minute, then pour the mixture over the couscous and give it a quick stir to make sure to get rid of any dry pockets. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the couscous to cook off the heat for about 20 minutes.
In a small pot, bring some water to a boil (about a cup should do) and drop in the diced red onion. Let it boil for about half a minute, then remove with a slotted spoon to a small bowl. Toss the onion with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and with the soy sauce. As you stir, the onion with turn a lovely pink color. When the couscous is finished cooking, fluff it with a fork and add the onion and nuts. Enjoy with a great big smile.
* This couscous goes particularly well with White Steamed Fish with Fennel and Lime