Moroccan Style Couscous

From Entry: Salmon for Supper - from Yahoo 360 Blog - February 2007

I'm not only in the mood for fish, but I've got a Moroccan thing goin' on. It's that time of year, because Williams-Sonoma is featuring the Spice Route, tagines, and the ubiquitous Moroccan Seasonings. Now that I've worked there 3 seasons (over 2 years) I see a pattern to their marketing and displays. Have to admit, I do enjoy it. I mixed up a bit of the Moroccan spice on my own, having so much spice from previous forays to the local spice shops. Easy enough to make - I even read a recipe that used pumpkin pie spice with cumin and cayenne added to the mix. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, they all work in tandem. Pan fried a couple of salmon fillets - the frozen fillets from Wegmans are quite good and hold up well to freezing. Some of the best frozen fish I've had, better than Trader Joe's, & the price is a real bargain. Reduced some Vermouth in the pan after cooking the fish, then whisked in Dijon Mustard and some red pepper pesto I had from Tuesday Night's Class. Tasty! Definite pantry staple items to keep on hand. Vermouth is great because unlike white wine, you can use it to cook with a bit more freely. It adds the acidic tang you want, without too many oaky or winey flavors. It keeps well once opened, refrigerated. It is very inexpensive and it's great to have on hand for shaking up a martini. Couscous cooks quickly and you do not need a special skill to learn to make it, unlike, say, rice - which can be tricky. Plus it's cheap as chips. Buy it in bulk, it costs like 50 cents a pound. Dijon mustard - a must have. Great for dipping sauces with nothing more than mayo and/or honey. Whisk into sauces for body and thickness and less calories than butter. Emulsifies a vinaigrette. Brush it over a piece of fish or chicken, and you can turn plain into gourmet! To accompany the meal, I made a Moroccan-inspired couscous. One of my many sides I’ve learned over the years from working in the food business. This one is from my days at Jill’s Vorspeise. Though I embellished it a bit and have made it my own. It is a variation on a couscous salad we would do, with toasted almonds, oranges and apricots.

Moroccan Couscous with Oranges and Apricots Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil - divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Moroccan Seasoning
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Almonds- chopped, sliced or slivered
  • 1 Cup Uncooked Couscous
  • 1 1/3 Cups water
  • Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper – to taste
  • Zest of 1 Large Orange
  • Orange Segments & Juice of 1 Large Orange (Supreme the Orange and then squeeze any remaining juice from the remains. Reserve segments for the couscous)
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Apricots – small dice
Directions:
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the seasoning & almonds; toast until fragrant – about 1 minute. Add the uncooked couscous to the almond mixture & toast it for another 1 minute. Put the seasoned couscous into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Put the water into the sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil; pour the water over couscous, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and let the couscous sit to absorb the water – about 3 minutes. Remove cover and fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in and combine the remaining olive oil, orange zest, juice, orange segments and diced apricots. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold. Tastes best warm or at room temperature.
  3. Makes 6 servings. Holds for up to 2 days.

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