Couscous is actually a background ingredient to this hearty and flavorful dish. Savory root vegetables, butternut squash, chickpeas and sweet caramelized shallots get dressed up with a plethora of savory, sweet and spicy ingredients that make this dish just that. Ingredients like cinnamon, star anise, paprika, turmeric, harissa and preserved lemon - all personal favorites on their own - come together beautifully in this truly amazing dish.
Yes the ingredient list is lengthy but if you cook with any sort of regularity you are already in possession of most of the items...and pulling this dish together will happen sooner than you imagine. And in the end you will have an ideal vegetarian meal.
Ultimate Winter Couscous
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
8 shallots, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
3 bay leaves
5 T olive oil
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground turmeric
1/4 t hot paprika
1/4 t chili flakes
2 c + 1/2 c cubed butternut squash
1/2 c dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 can chickpeas
1 c + 1/2 c chickpea liquid and water
1 c couscous
large pinch saffron
1 c boiling vegetable stock
3 T butter, broken into pieces
2 T harissa paste
1 oz preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 c cilantro leaves
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place carrots, parsnips, shallots, cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, 4 T olive oil, 3/4 t salt and all other spices in a large oven proof dish. Mix well and cook for 15 minutes.
Stir in the butternut squash and cook for 35 minutes. Add the apricots, chickpeas and their liquid. Cook for 10 more minutes.
About 15 minutes before the vegetables are done, place the couscous in a heatproof bowl with the remaining 1 T olive oil, saffron and 1/2 t salt. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10 minutes until all the stock has been absorbed. Fluff and stir in butter with a fork until melted. Cover to keep warm.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir in the harissa and preserved lemon. Taste and add more salt if you like.
To serve, spoon couscous into individual bowls, top with vegetables and sprinkle with plenty of cilantro leaves.
Source: Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi