Friday

couscous with shrimp and veggies


I think couscous is underrated in many countries. It is so quick and easy to prepare a delicious and nutritious dish with couscous as a base and your choice of veggies and meat. If you have never tried to make a couscous dish here is a simple and healthy recipe for you.
Many people think couscous is some sort of seed but couscous is made out of semolina, which is a durum wheat flour, the one used to make dry pasta. So basically couscous is like tiny bits of pasta. The advantage of semolina is that it does not get soggy when cooked.
 
I have used pre-packaged couscous and couscous sold in bulk. I like both. Some boxed couscous come with seasoning but I don't like all the preservatives it contains. I prefer to make my couscous dish from scratch.


In terms of nutrition pasta is slightly more nutritious than couscous but what makes your meal really healthy is what you add to your pasta or couscous. In my opinion couscous is better than pasta because usually you add lots more veggies to it and some sort of meat, usually shrimp or chicken.

Couscous is a staple in many African countries especially in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. It is also very popular in France and Italy, particularly in Northern Sicily. 

The couscous we buy in Western countries is the instant kind and just needs to be soaked in very hot water or stock to get fluffy and ready to eat. The original couscous needs to be soaked in cold water and then prepared. It's more work for sure.  
 
A few details make my recipe special. I use chicken broth instead of water. I fry the shrimp in butter or coconut oil to add flavor to the shrimp. I sautee onion, garlic and then the veggies, which again adds flavor. The addition of nuts is a must in my opinion not only for flavor but for texture. My favorite are pine nuts but walnuts and sleeved almonds would work as well.

Sorry bachelors but there is some work required to make this recipe. But hey, it does not really take too long to prepare onions, garlic and veggies. Anyway at the end of this post you will find a Super Simple version of this recipe.

What You Need:
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth - I buy mine at Trader Joe's (but you can use 1 1/2 cup water and 1 chicken bouillon instead)
  • 2 tablespoons butter - to make it healthier use coconut oil instead of butter
  • 1 lb precooked shrimp rinsed in cold water and drained (see note 1 below)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • half red onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots - or buy them already shredded)
  • 1 can (15oz) peas drained OR frozen peas thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (or slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (or parsley or cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)  
Note: If you want to go all natural and not use canned or frozen products then use green beans instead of peas. Cut them diagonally in small bits and add them to the pan at the same time you add the carrots. Let them cook together.
 
What To Do:





Gather the ingredients.






Over medium high heat melt butter in a dutch oven, large skillet or wide bottom pan.
Wait until the butter is bubbling and begin to brown. 
Coconut oil is a healthier choice than butter. It does not make bubbles or brown so just wait about 40 second for it to heat.



When the butter is bubbling turn the heat to high and fry the shrimp for about 45 seconds
It will smell so good. Ahhhhh!
It might release some liquid but don't worry about that. Just let it be. 
Those tiny shrimps that I am using in this recipe tend to shrink quickly so don't leave them in the pan longer than 1 minute.



Remove the shrimp from the pan and place them in a bowl (or any container really).
Turn off the heat so the butter does not burn while you remove the shrimp from the pan. 
Reserve the shrimp.







Turn on the heat again (medium high) and add the olive oil or coconut oil.
Let it heat a bit (30 seconds).









Add onion and garlic. 
Sautee until the onion is translucent.
  





Add the carrots. Sautee for about 1 minute.








Add the wine and let the carrots cook for 4 more minutes.
If the wine evaporates too quickly just add some more ora bit of water. Don't let the carrots burn please.





Add chives, pine nuts, salt and pepper and stir.
Turn the heat to high and add the peas and the chicken broth.









When the broth boils, turn the heat off and add the couscous, stirring briefly but evenly.
Quickly place the top on the pan.
Let it sit for 5 minutes.






After 5 minutes the couscous is going to be fluffy.
Add the shrimp and stir carefully.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if you think it's necessary.








Bon Appétit!     







Note 1: You can use the little shrimp called shrimp meat or the medium size shrimp. They are precooked and you buy them at the fish counter by weight. If you are using precooked shrimp you just need to fry them for one minute or they will get hard. The little shrimp really shrinks quickly so if you fry them for too long they will get ridiculously tiny. You don't want that to happen of course.
To wash the shrimp place them in a colander or sifter and run them under cold running water. Let it drain for about 15 minutes. Place the colander on paper towels to absorb the excess water.
You can also use fresh shrimp. If doing so make sure they are shelled, deveined and well rinsed. Fry them for about 3 minutes or until they change color, which means they are cooked. Don't overcook shrimp or they will be too hard.


Super Simple Couscous Shrimp and Veggies Recipe.

What makes this version super simple is that you will use dry ingredients instead of fresh so it's less time consuming. You can also buy the carrots pre- shredded. You can also use 2 cups frozen assorted veggies instead of carrots and peas. Just make sure you let them cook as long as the instructions from the package says.
 
  What You Need:
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 1 lb precooked shrimp rinsed in cold water and drained (see note 1 above)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup pre-shredded carrot
  • 1 cup peas (frozen or canned) drained
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon dry chives (or parsley - or cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup water or white wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)

What To Do:
Melt butter in a dutch oven, large skillet or wide bottom pan.
When the butter is bubbling turn the heat to high and fry the shrimp for about 45 seconds.
Turn off the heat so the butter does not burn and remove the shrimp from the pan. Reserve.
Turn the heat on again (medium high) and add the olive oil.
Let the oil heat a bit (30 seconds) and add the carrots and 1/4 cup water or white wine and let it cook for 5 minutes.
Add the peas, chives, pine nuts, salt and pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, water and chicken bouillon.
Turn the heat to high and stir until the chicken bouillon dissolves.
When it boils turn the heat off and add the couscous, stirring quickly. 
Put the top on the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Add the shrimp and stir carefully.
Bon Appétit! 

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