On a recent visit to my local library I met a friend who was looking for ideas on hosting a dinner party for a few friends. She was thinking of a Moroccan theme so in my enthusiasm I suggested serving Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous as it is so simple to make and would fit the theme she was thinking of.
I first saw a version of this recipe a couple of years back in a supermarket magazine where it was giving ideas on how to use a tagine and this was the vegetarian option. The vegetables were slightly different in the magazine so when I recreated it at home, I just used the vegetables that I had and it turned out to be really good. As I don’t have a tagine I just roasted the vegetables in the oven.
This recipe reminds me of the time when we went on a desert safari excursion on a trip to Dubai. The desert safari included a traditional meal and this dish was served as the vegetarian option. The vegetables were less tasty but the idea of the couscous I got from there so I mixed the two together to create this meal.
This dish of Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous works well for large gatherings where you want to try and have fuss free cooking plus it would be good to take on picnics as it tastes good when served cold. The best thing about this dish is the fact that not only is it simple to make, especially for a large group, but it is vibrantly colourful, which to me is brilliant as half of the way we enjoy food comes from the visual impact.
I look forward to seeing other vegetarian/vegan recipes from this event.
Moroccan Style Vegetables with Couscous
As mentioned before, you can use any Mediterranean style vegetables and you can add chillies if you want to make it more spicier. This mixture of vegetables also works well in wraps for an alternative lunch. I have found that the couscous requires a lot of salt in order for it to have a well balanced taste, I would say start by adding a little at a time to make sure it does not get too salty. The spice mix used to flavour the cous cous is a pre blended mix, however you can use either similar ingredients or any other spice mix that you feel will complement the flavours.
Preparation time: 20 mins Cooking time: 1 hr Serves: 4 to 6
For the vegetables
3 Courgettes (Zucchini) cut in chunks
4 red onions sliced
3 capsicums (Bell peppers) – one in each colour – red, green & yellow or orange
1 medium butter nut squash cubed into 2cm pieces
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp each of ground cumin(jeeru) and cinnamon (taj) powder
2 tsp paprika powder
3 tbsp olive oil
For the Couscous
3 cups couscous
420 g canned chick peas drained and rinsed
3 tsp salt
2 tsp Arabic seasoning mix (cumin, coriander, black pepper, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mint, onion, cloves, cinnamon, chilli and aniseed powder)
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbp olive oil
1) Pre -heat the oven to 200’C. Chop all the vegetables into large chunks about 2 cm cubed pieces. For the zucchini/courgette I cut it half length ways and then chopped it into 1 cm semi circles. For the butternut squash I have learnt the hard way that you need proper sharp knife and peeler. Here is an excellent article on how to peel and cut butternut squash from SimplyRecipes.com
2) In a large baking tray place all the vegetables, and pour the olive oil over the vegetables together with the spices and salt, mix thoroughly and place in the oven.
3) While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the couscous. Drain & rinse the chick peas and keep aside. Boil some water. In a large bowl, place the couscous, chick peas, seasoning and all the other ingredients. Pour boiling hot water, enough to cover the couscous and 2 cms extra and mix with a fork. Making sure all the grains of couscous are coated with the spice, olive oil and lemon juice, keep on mixing at regular intervals just to make sure that the grains of couscous don’t lump together. Once the water has absorbed taste the couscous for the correct balance of flavours and to make sure the couscous is al dente, you can add a little extra hot water if needed and mix again with a fork.
4) Check on the vegetables and mix at regular intervals to ensure that the vegetables cook evenly and the spices mix well together. They should be cooked in about 30 mins, check to make sure, once cooked remove from the oven and you are ready to serve with the couscous, enjoy and let me know how you enjoyed the flavours.