Butternut Squash with Cumin Couscous

Butternut Squash Couscous

When people are talking about alternatives to rice or potatoes as a side dish, they often list couscous along with grains such as barley, bulgar and buckwheat. But yes, I know, couscous is not a grain. It just looks like one ’cause it’s all cute and tiny. In reality couscous is actually grains of semolina, which is durum wheat, and is the same stuff that makes up pasta. So technically couscous is just unformed pasta? Well, that is something I’ll leave up to the food debaters (yes, there are such things as food debaters). For our purposes, this yummy dish will serve 6-8 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
⅓ cup dark or golden raisins
4 ¼ cups vegetable broth
1 (540ml) can chickpeas, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 ½ cups couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves*
¼ cup (1 ounce) almonds, chopped

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:

Halve and peel the squash. Remove the seeds and cut the squash into 1-inch chunks. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon of the cumin and cook for another minute. Stir in the squash, tomatoes, raisins, broth, chickpeas, and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until the squash is tender, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups water and the remaining cumin and salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the liquid has absorbed into the couscous and it is tender, fluff it gently with a fork.

Divide the couscous among individual bowls and ladle the squash over the top. Sprinkle with the parsley and almonds.

Spicy Tuna Pashtida

Tuna PashtidaFor those of you not in the know, a Pashtida (pash-ti-DA), is the Hebrew word a savoury pie, quiche or casserole. This fish recipe originally came from a family friend and neighbour, Esther Prisman, but we’ve made a few changes to adapt to the tastes of our family. The biggest change is that ours is more tomato-y with a can of diced tomatoes added, rather than two tomatoes, peeled and diced. Note, the tastes of my family seem to include lowering the intensity of the labour needed, as opening a can is a heck of a lot easier than peeling and dicing! You can also use pre-sliced olives, rather than cutting them up yourself. This can either be made as a large casserole, or as individual spring rolls for a fun appetizer!

Ingredients:

2 small onions, chopped
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes
½ – 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
½ – ¾ cup green olives, sliced (about 15 olives)
2 cans tuna, drained
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package puff pastry dough (for casserole)
sesame seeds (for garnish)
~ or ~
1 package egg roll wrappers (for spring rolls)
oil for frying

Directions:

In a sauté pan, cook onions, tomatoes, chili flakes, olives, tuna, salt and pepper until all the liquids have evaporated. If making a casserole, take half of the pastry dough and place on the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon on the filling mixture, and then top with remaining half of dough. Make a light egg wash (one egg and some water, beaten) and brush the top of the dough. Score the top of the casserole and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

If preparing as individual spring rolls, spoon about a tablespoon or so of the filling on to an egg roll wrapper. Roll the wrapper up, tucking in the sides. Seal with water or egg wash along the edges. To cook the rolls, there are two options: You can either fry them in a sauté pan, with a few tablespoons of oil, until brown and crispy; or you can place them in a 375 degree oven on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, until brown and crispy.