I fell in love with couscous in college. I had moved from the countryside in the Midwest to a huge city on the East Coast and a friend had me over for dinner one night. We were, of course, starving college kids and her simple menu consisted of a hearty stew based on chickpeas over a fragrant bed of couscous. Having grown up on meat and potatoes menus, this meal was definitely unusual to me, but I was fascinated. I became more so when I discovered that couscous was both inexpensive and ultra-quick to make. As versatile as rice, but requiring mere minutes to make, it became a staple in my diet and found itself in everything from a creamy porridge to start my day to stews and stir-fries to end it.
As my means have grown to allow new and more costly ingredients, couscous has kept a favored spot in my pantry and at my table. I am particularly fond of it as an unusual ingredient in my breakfast lineup. It can be sweetened with maple syrup and raisins and eaten like oatmeal or given a more savory twist and paired with other traditional breakfast fare, like this month's featured recipe.
By softening couscous in a richly flavored broth and dotting it with some lightly toasted nuts and spices, it takes on a hearty flavor that's wonderful when a perfectly poached egg is slid onto a serving. To make this an even heartier breakfast, try poaching the egg in simmering diced tomatoes and then spooning the hot sauce over the egg and couscous. Actually, that's a blast from my past. This was one of my favorite quick and tasty dinner menus before running off to evening classes. Who says you need to have a lot of money to feed yourself well?
- 1 c. chicken broth
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1 c. couscous
- 1/2 c. lightly toasted pistachio nuts
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
- 2/3 c. vegetable broth
- 2 eggs
In a small saucepan, combine the chicken broth, garlic, paprika and white pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from the heat and add the couscous and nuts. Cover the saucepan and let rest.
In a small skillet, warm the tomatoes and vegetable broth over medium heat. When the liquid begins to simmer, carefully crack the eggs into the simmering liquid. Poach the eggs over medium heat until cooked to your desired doneness.
Fluff the couscous with a fork and divide between two serving plates. Carefully slide a poached egg onto each plate and spoon the tomato mixture over the egg. Serve immediately.
- Yields: 2 servings
- Preparation Time: 20 minutes