Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day Eighteen: Spring Vegetable Couscous and Steak Kebabs

Day eighteen of Operation: Expand Horizons offers one new recipe from the May 2010 issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, Spring Vegetable Couscous, as a side dish to some tried-and-true steak kebabs.

I've never tried couscous before, and it was super quick to prepare. The dish itself is simple- asparagus, green onion, frozen peas, parsley, couscous, and water. I really liked it, but my husband, who is season-weary of asparagus, complained about it and also said it had too many peas. I think I might make a variation of this dish as a cold salad, using tabouli wheat (bulgur) instead of couscous. I may even spring it up further by adding some shredded spinach!

The magazine version calls for lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Knowing our tastes (asparagus may well pair with lemon according to traditional cooking lore, but I find it has too much bitterness), I omitted the lemon and added two small cloves of garlic. The magazine also calls for adding shredded rotisserie chicken to make this a main dish, but that sounded weird to me and I opted instead to make it as a meatless side.

I like to keep frozen peas in the fridge at all times. For one, I got lucky with a youngin who will literally eat peas as a snack. Secondly, the frozen variety are infinitely more tasty than the canned variety. I learned my lesson buying the cheap store brand frozen veggies. There is a noticeable difference in flavor and texture- I now buy either Green Giant or Birds Eye exclusively.

Here's the recipe as it appears in this month's Everyday Food, with my changes noted in italics. I halved the recipe to make it a side for two adults and a 3 year old, and had about a serving left over.

Spring-Vegetable Couscous with Chicken
Serves 4

3 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced crosswise
2 wide strips lemon zest plus 1 tbsp. lemon juice (I omitted in favor of 2 cloves garlic, minced)
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 cup couscous
leg and thigh meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, turn into bite-size pieces (I omitted.)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add scallion whites (and garlic) and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add lemon zest and 1 1/4 cups water and season with salt and pepper. Cover pan and bring liquid to a boil, then add asparagus and peas. Return to a boil and stir in couscous. Add chicken and remove pan from heat; cover and let sit 7 minutes. Add lemon juice (I omitted), scallion greens, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Fluff with a fork and serve.

I have a well-worn recipe my husband found online for a dry rub for steak. It's purported to be like that used by Outback Steakhouse, but whether that's true or not, it's a good mix.

Steak Rub
Makes about 1/2 cup. Mix the following in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over steak or pork chops about 1/2 hour before grilling. Store leftovers in a sealed container with your spices.

4 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder (I use garlic granules, which I think have a more potent flavor.)
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

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