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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Couscous Challenge

Good evening, dear readers!

Yesterday, I came across a video on Youtube of British chef Kerryann Dunlop making a Turkish-inspired couscous salad. After watching it and realizing I had pretty much all the ingredients needed to make this dish, I decided to answer her call challenging us to make this recipe. I decided it was gonna be for dinner.

Here's the video:

And here's my take on it:

Even my husband loved it, and he's not crazy about couscous! (note: I have no idea why the image is rendering sideways. It was taken right-side up!)

There were a few deviations that I took when making the couscous salad. I didn't have smoked paprika, just the regular kind. I also didn't use chili peppers, nor did I feel like opening up a can of chili tomatoes to compensate, but I also added three large cloves of garlic and used different proportions of fresh herbs based on what I had available and could tolerate eating (I'm cool with cilantro and parsley, but I'm not much of a mint eater so I used the littlest bit of yerba buena I could cut off since that was the only mint I have. I'm not sure exactly what type of mint yerba buena is (I think it might actually be spearmint. It certainly smells like it), but it's a common herb used for teas by the local Mexican population. A neighbor gave us our yerba buena plant a year ago and it has gone absolutely gangbusters in the garden). I also didn't have any tomato puree like what the recipe called for, but I think in this regard it would have ruined the dish.

This is not the first time I've had couscous salad. A few weeks ago, I cooked up a box of couscous we'd been given a few years ago and added my usual salad staples of tomato, cucumber, garlic powder, olive oil and vinegar. I won't say I fell in love with couscous, especially since I'd never eaten it in my life prior to then, but I genuinely liked it. I make it a point to now always have a box in the pantry for when I feel like having some.

The first couscous meal I ever ate. Certainly not as fancy or colorful as tonight's creation, but it was good enough to get me to make it again

Overall, I was quite pleased with the way this dish came out. Next time I make this, I'll add some chicken to it since I think the two will go well together. My husband was also delighted with the result since he'd eaten his fair share of couscous in the past, but had grown tired of it as he got older and stopped hanging out at the Sufi mosque where he was introduced to the dish by some Palestinian congregants. The one thing he griped about was that it was hard for him to gum the cucumbers, but everything else was chewable for him. Periodontal disease in his 40s robbed my husband of his teeth, but he can still eat most foods and speak without impairment. The only things he really can't eat are nuts and anything really tough or hard since teeth are required there. This has proved to be a blessing for the baby cuz if my husband can't eat the food, neither can she.

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