Sunday, May 19, 2013

Crispy Couscous with Tomato and Shallots

When my friend, Michelle of Ms. enPlace, shared her version of Couscous with Tomato and Onion I knew right away I had to make it for myself! The concept of a couscous cake with a crispy, buttery, golden brown crust and a fluffy interior was so very appealing.   

I rushed to the store for the ingredients, brought them home, and then began procrastinating. For days.  For some reason the idea of inverting the couscous onto a plate with the hopes of transferring a perfectly golden thing of beauty was causing me stress.  So I put it off.  All week.  Until today.  As you can see, the couscous cake did fall apart when I inverted it.  I'd like to tell you that I handled this in a classy way, but that would be a lie.  After having a little bit of a hissy fit, I realized the couscous actually looked good a little broken up because it reveals the texture difference between the crusty exterior and the fluffy interior.  Or at least that's what I told myself.  

Either way, this dish is absolutely delicious.  It's crispy, buttery, and fluffy with a very mild flavor making this a great side dish to serve with nearly anything you'd like.  The next time I make this I'd probably add just a touch of minced garlic, but only because we love garlic.  I will definitely be making this again!

Crispy Couscous with Tomato and Shallots
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (or one medium onion, chopped)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1-3/4 cups very ripe diced tomatoes
1 cup couscous
1 cup boiling chicken or vegetable stock
2-1/2 tablespoons butter
 salt and pepper, to taste 

Notes: I decided to sub shallots in place of onions because I prefer the subtle flavor of shallots over onions.  I wanted this to be a mild and kid-friendly dish that everyone would eat. 

 Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a nonstick pan about 8-1/2 inches in diameter and place over medium heat.  Add the shallots (or onion) and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until softened but no colored.  Stir in the tomato paste and sugar and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook down until you have a chunky looking tomato sauce, about 3 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, put the couscous in a shallow bowl, pour over the boiling stock, and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside for 10 minutes, then remove the cover and fluff the couscous with a fork.  Add the tomato sauce and stir well.

Wipe the pan clean and heat the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, spoon the couscous into the pan and use the back of the spoon to pat it down gently so it is all packed in snugly.  (At this point, Ottolenghi's instructions say to cover the pan, reduce the heat to its lowest setting, and allow the couscous to steam for 10 - 12 minutes, until you can see a light brown color around the edges).  I didn't really like the idea of covering the pan and trapping all that moisture so I decided to leave my couscous uncovered.  I cooked it for about 10-12 minutes until it was golden brown on the edges.  Use an offset spatula or a knife to help you peer between the edge of the couscous and the side of the pan; you want a really crisp edge all over the base and sides.

Invert a large plate on top of the pan and quickly invert the pan and plate together, releasing the couscous onto the plate. Serve warm or room temperature.  Garnish with tomato, herbs, etc.
Theme: Use Your Noodle!


  1. Ummm. Different, sounds good!

  2. Oh, Kim! You are such a delight. Inverting that sucker stressed me out too. And when things go wrong in my kitchen I rarely act in a classy manner.

    I agree that the slight breakage did work out well in showing the great textures here. I love your crust (boy, that sentence is weird). Really, you achieved exactly what I was after...if it weren't for my sticky pan.

    Story for you: last night I was on Pinterest. Jude was sitting next to me and saw a certain someone's pin about rewriting grocery lists based on the store layout. He pointed to it and said, "that's so you." I bust out laughing and said, "look who pinned it." He said the two of us need to get together.

  3. I like it this way--showing the contrast in textures. You should have pretended you did it that way on purpose. ;-) After seeing this dish from both you and Michelle, I definitely want to try it!

  4. That crispy crunchy couscous outside sounds amazing! This is definitely a recipe I need to try for a future IHCC!

  5. According to Julia Child, admit to nothing! Just smile, and no one will be the wiser. Once, my friend and I made a veggie pizza (mmm now I want veggie pizza) for a get together and we got out of the car and she dropped it... completely flipped it over onto the grass. We quickly inverted it and slid it back into the tray (it was luckily covered in aluminum foil) and picked off the few blades of grass that got stuck, and served it. Everyone thought it was delicious :)

  6. An interesting dish and sounds good! I really have to venture my take on couscous, something that I've ever only cooked once!

  7. I have to try this one! Actually can't think why I haven't already! What a great way with couscous. I find crunchy on the outside & fluffy inside is pretty much always a good thing :)

  8. LOL, I have been known to make a hissy fit or two when things don't go my way in the kitchen. I have never heard of a couscous cake but I like the idea of it.

  9. haha, yes, hissy fits have happened in my kitchen a time or two as well! but i agree, i love seeing the layers in that gorgeous couscous, what a fun way to make it! this looks wonderful.

  10. This is a fabulous way to prepare couscous! I love the crunchy burnt bits, it is my favourite part.

    Look at Belden


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