Couscous originated from North Africa where it is usually served with a meat or vegetable stew. Like pasta, it is made of semolina flour but instead of mixing the flour with water and egg to form a dough, it is simply moistened and rubbed between hands to form tiny spherical granules. As you can imagine, this is a very involved and labor intensive process. Fortunately, instant couscous is now easily available. The product has already been pre-steamed and dried before packaging and need only be soaked in boiling water until it swells which takes only a few minutes.
Properly cooked couscous is light and fluffy. Since it does not have much flavor of its own, it is pretty versatile. It works well as a base for stews, soaking up all the delicious gravy. When properly flavored with herbs and spices or studded with dried fruits and nuts, it can also be a stand-alone dish. Sometimes, couscous is also mixed into salads.
Do not despair if you are on a gluten-free diet. Brown rice couscous is now available. I discovered this sometime back and has been using it ever since. Brown rice couscous takes about 13 to 15 minutes to cook but the texture is very similar to regular couscous. It has a slightly nutty flavor.
The other recipe on this blog using brown rice couscous is Shrimp and Chickpeas Brown Rice Couscous. Please click on the picture to get to the post. Also, do check out my Gluten-Free Gallery for more gluten-free recipes.
- ½ kabocha squash ( about 1 lb/450g)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 box (10oz/280g) gluten free rice cous cous**
- ½ cup (70g) dried cranberries
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup (30g) pine nuts, toasted
Cut kabocha squash into ¾-inch thick wedges. With a vegetable peeler, remove some but not all the skin. Cut wedges in chunks.
In a medium size pan, heat olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in 3½ cups (840ml) water. Bring it to a boil.
Add rice cous cous, kabocha squash, dried cranberries, and salt. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 13 minutes without lifting the lid.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle pine nuts on the top.
**If you are using 1 box (10 oz/280g) regular cous cous, reduce water to 2 1/3 cups (560ml). Cook kabocha squash and dried cranberries for the full 13 minutes. Stir in cous cous and cover pan. Turn off stove and remove pan from heat. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then fluff with fork.
This flavorful Kabocha Cranberry Brown Rice Couscous can be eaten on its own or served with a stew. I actually made a vegan stew to go with it but ate the leftover on its own for lunch the next day. It was delicious either way. I hope you will give it a try. Recipe for the stew will be coming up soon.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!