Versatile, speedy, filling, healthy and cheap, what’s not to love about couscous?
Couscous, a semolina dish of Maghrebian origin traditionally served with a vegetable and/or meat stew, is a staple food of North Africa, but has grown to be a very popular dish across the world, with different regions adding their own special twist to it.
Whether vegetarian, meat or fish based, spicy or sweet, regional varieties abound. Libya, Tunisia and Morocco all have their traditional recipes.
My granny, who lived in Tunisia for many years, for example adds to it a very slow stew of mutton, vegetable and chickpeas, and accompanies it with deliciously crunchy thin strips of shallow-fried zucchini and carrots, with a hot Harissa sauce always at hand for the most daring.
The sky is the limit when preparing couscous, and here are just some simple recipes ideas:
This is one of my favourites:
Beet, spinach and goat’s cheese couscous
Zest and juice 1 large orange
25g walnut pieces
85g firm goat’s cheese, crumbled
6 dried apricots, roughly chopped
4 small cooked beetroot, quartered
2 handfuls spinach leaves
For the dressing
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice ½ lemon
Put the orange zest, juice and 100ml water in a small pan and bring to the boil. Place the couscous in a medium bowl and pour the hot liquid over. Mix well, then cover and leave to absorb for 5 mins. Fluff up the grains with a fork, then add the walnuts, cheese, apricots, beetroot and seasoning. Mix the oil and lemon juice (or use your favourite bought vinaigrette), then toss well.
(Recipe from BBCGoodFood )
Amongst ‘couscous regions’, also Trapani in Sicily counts the dish amongst its traditional recipes; so important it is in local food culture that at San Vito Lo Capo, a lovely seaside town in the Trapani province of Sicily, they’ve even made an international event in its honour!
The Couscous Fest is not only a chance to try assorted varieties of this Maghrebian dish prepared by gastronomy experts of the world over, with some 30 chefs enticing visitors with their versions, indeed against a backdrop of amazing coastlines and plenty history and architecture to delight any history buffs out there, the Couscous Fest is also a cultural exchange event, bringing together people from different regions and cultures. And with world music acts also taking to the stage (this year, Pino Daniele!) the event is sure to leave visitors with some very happy memories indeed.
Not sure how to get there? No better way than to hop on the aptly named Couscous cruise by Intersailclub, departing from Palermo on 21st September.