Couscous With Winter Vegetables and Beans
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in thick slices and cleaned
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more to taste)
2 cups white beans, soaked in 2 quarts water for 6 hours or overnight
A bouquet garni consisting of 8 sprigs each parsley and cilantro
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons harissa (more to taste), plus additional for serving
1 1/2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut in large dice (about 4 cups diced)
1 pound turnips, cut in wedges or carrots, cut in thick slices (or 1/2 pound each)
1 pound greens, stemmed and washed thoroughly, blanched in salted boiling water and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, or a combination
2 2/3 cups couscous, preferably whole wheat couscous
1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onion and leeks. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes, then stir in the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the spices. Stir together for about one minute. Add the beans and soaking water, an additional one quart water and the bouquet garni. Bring to a gentle boil, add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer one hour. Add the harissa, tomato paste, squash, turnips and/or carrots. Bring back to a simmer for 45 minutes, or until the squash is beginning to fall apart and the beans are tender. Stir in the blanched greens, chopped parsley and/or cilantro. Simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. The stew should be spicy and flavorful.
2. Reconstitute and steam the couscous. Serve the couscous in wide bowls, or mound onto plates. Top with the stew and a generous amount of broth. Pass more harissa at the table.
Yield: Serves eight generously
Advance preparation: The stew can be made a day ahead and reheated. Leftovers will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. The couscous can be reconstituted up to a day ahead, then steamed before serving.
Tunisian spice mix: Many of the recipes this week will use the spice combination in this recipe. If you want to get ahead and have prepared Tunisian spices on hand, lightly toast then grind two parts cumin seeds, one part caraway seeds and one part coriander seeds. Use 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the mix in the recipes.