I felt inspired to come up with something new this week, and so I made this spicy North African dish – Couscous with Mint and Blood Oranges. It’s easy to get it wrong it couscous – it’s bland by itself and needs to be fluffy and full of moisture at the same time. This dish though… it’s a keeper. Full-on flavor, full-on health kick and quick to make. Ok, I will brag a bit. It turned out really, really nice and tasted just as great the next day.
What you don’t see in the pictures are the cupfuls of finely chopped herbs that make up the dish. Yea – cupfuls! There’s artichokes and chilies in there too. You didn’t think this wouldn’t be spicy, did you? It’s hot, but the mint and the sweetness of oranges balance the spices very well.
The star of the show was rosemary and herb infused olive oil that I picked up in France last year – sadly, my last 1/4 cup. But it was a very nice way to use the last bit of it. You’ll notice harissa paste in the ingredients. My tip would be to start with less and taste the spice mixture after it’s been mixed with the olive oil. You can always add more later. I have a very high tolerance to hot spices these days, but I realize I might be in the minority! So start with a teensy bit. Have fun.
- 1½ cups whole wheat couscous
- 1½ cups boiling water
- 3 jalapeno chilies, finely chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed mint, finely chopped
- 1 medium bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 english cucumber, finely chopped
- ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts, finely chopped
- ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
- The Spice Mix
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 whole unpeeled head of garlic (to be roasted)
- 2 tbs harissa paste (or use storebought)
- ½ tbs ground cumin
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 blood oranges
- mint, to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Pour the couscous into a large bowl and stir in the boiling water. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork, then use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the jalapeno chilies, mint, cilantro, english cucumber, artichokes and red onion. Set aside.
- Place a head of garlic in the middle rack of the oven and roast until fragrant and the skin starts to char, about 10-15 minutes. Take out and let cool slightly.
- Put the salt and finely chopped rosemary in a mortar and pestle and pound until fragrant. Squeeze out the roasted garlic from the skins and add, then add the harissa paste and ground cumin. Combine well, rubbing it around with the pestle. Add the olive oil and orange juice and mix well.
- Pour the spice mixture over the couscous and gently fold in until thoroughly combined.
- Top with peeled and sliced blood oranges and mint. Serve hot, or cold.
- We ate this with broiled salmon on the side and and a dollop yogurt on each plate.