I hadn’t tried couscous until I moved to Canada and I like it because it’s a wonderful stand in for staple grains such as rice. Not in vain has it remained key to the diet of Morocco’s people, as well as in other North African countries. Make sure you get whole wheat couscous though, because like with any other grain the white version is far too refined to be recommendable. The addition of protein in the form of almonds and in combination with the Persian and green salads makes of this a full
dirt cheap! meal. Alternatively, instead of almonds you can use chickpeas, cashews or black-eyes beans.
As for the Persian salad, this is one I had for the first time a year ago when an Iranian client took us to a restaurant specialized in traditional foods from his country, in Toronto. In that same place I fell in love with Basmatti rice so you can imagine it was an evening of flavorful discoveries for me. Cool and refreshing, this salad makes a perfect side dish in the hot summer months.
One thing I keep noticing over and over in my desire to eat well is that it is extremely helpful to venture out of our customs, traditions and meal preparing habits. Ethnic food offers a wide array of delicious options that have worked wonders for centuries for other civilizations, and very often they are quite easy and cheap to prepare (and if you ask me, easy, cheap and healthy are the trifecta that describes an excellent meal.)
Also –and this has to be said– when we see the global trends to discover that North America stands among the unhealthiest, largest, most inactive populations… that’s got to make things click. Something is obviously very, very wrong. Apparently today 50% of the people in the U.S. are at real risk of suffering a disease linked directly to their eating habits. That’s half the population of the entire country getting sick and/or dying just because of what they choose to put in their mouths. It’s ridiculous! I’ll pass on that thankyouverymuch, and I’ll stick to eating what people in healthier countries eat.
Almond Couscous and Persian Salad
1 C whole wheat couscous
3/4 C almonds
chopped veggies, as many as you like. I used:
Green bell pepper
Orange bell pepper
Minced ginger root
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Turmeric, cumin, salt, cinnamon, to taste
Green onion or cilantro, for garnish
Place the dry couscous in a glass bowl and mix in all the spices and chopped vegetables. Drizzle with the olive oil. Now add enough boiling water to cover 1 cm. over the couscous, stir a couple of times gently, cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Garnish with green onion or cilantro.
For the Persian salad you’ll need:
1 English cucumber
1/4 red onion
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste
Make sure the cucumber, tomato and red onion are diced very finely. Bathe in lime juice and salt to taste. It’s better if made at least 1 hour beforehand and left to chill in the fridge.
Thai, Japanese, Indian, Moroccan, Ethiopian food… we sure have a world of flavors to discover! I’M ON IT.