June 2010 Archives

How To Make Couscous

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Couscous is a granular pasta usually made of semolina.  I have never steamed couscous which is the traditional method of making it.  I first learned to cook it from Deborah Madison's book "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" (which I highly recommend every cook have a copy of) but in rereading her instructions today I see I've gone completely off-book over the years with my own preparation.  My way works very well for me so I'm going to share it with you.

How To Make Couscous


1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup couscous
2 cups water or broth


Pour the olive oil into a large saute pan and put the stove on high.  Add the couscous and stir to coat with the oil.  Stir the couscous for 1 to 2 minutes until it slightly colors. 

Add the water or broth and shake the pan gently to evenly distribute it.  Keep the burner on high until the water starts to bubble.  Turn the burner off and put a lid on the pan.

Let it sit for 7 minutes.

Remove the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork.

Recipe Notes:  Sometimes it clumps a little and if it does you just have to use the fork to break them up.  I don't mind some clumps because they are never gummy or sticky for me.  I never eat couscous plain so by the time I mix vegetables into it the clumps usually break up completely anyway.  I don't salt my couscous.  If I'm going to use salt I add it at the same time that I add other things to it. 

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Oregano Garlic Zucchini Recipe

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I don't buy summer squash in the fall, winter, or spring so when it finally shows up at the farmer's market I can't get enough of it.  I know that zucchini is the proverbial pest in the kitchen garden for its fecund habits, but I have never once in my life had so much zucchini I had to worry about fobbing it off on others.  I love it grilled, roasted, stuffed, steamed, and sauteed.  The only way I don't like it is raw.

This simple recipe is my all time favorite way to eat them.  You can make this and eat is as a side or you can add it to pasta, couscous*, or rice.  You can add it to almost any other dish.  I love it best just like this!

Oregano Garlic Zucchini
serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium sized summer squash
4 stems of fresh oregano
2 large garlic cloves


Wash and slice the zucchini: if they are thin just cut in 1/4" rounds, if they are thick, cut in half lengthwise first and then cut in 1/4" half rounds.

Strip the leaves off the oregano stems and mince fine.

Have your garlic loaded into a garlic press OR mince it fine.

Pour the oil in a large saute pan and turn the burner to high.  When the oil is hot** put in the zucchini and let some of them brown but not burn, they cook fast so don't walk away from them.  It usually takes about five minutes to get some good roasted bits. 

One minute before taking the pan off the heat add the oregano and garlic.  You don't need them in the heat long.  Be sure to stir them in well.

Remove the pan from the stove and they're ready to eat.

Recipe notes:
  Any summer squash will be fantastic made this way.  I don't even salt and pepper mine but of course you can add either if you prefer.  Salt is a real flavor enhancer but in this dish the oregano and garlic are flavorful enough for me.  The worst thing that can happen when cooking summer squash is to over cook them.  As soon as you see the slices start turning from chalk white to translucent, they are almost done cooking. 

*Which is technically teeny tiny balls of pasta.

**To check if oil is hot, flick a little drop of water in it, if it crackles, the oil is hot.  But obviously, be careful because it can spatter and hurt you if you flick too much water into hot oil.  Or, of course, you can test it by putting one slice of zucchini in the pan, the oil should be hot enough that the zucchini start to sizzle a bit.

This recipe is vegan.
This recipe is gluten free.

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Mustard Potato Salad Recipe

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Although potato salad is a dish that generally doesn't get brought out until Memorial day, I think of it as an all season recipe because the ingredients can be found in your pantry all year.  When fresh dill is available it's even better and then can be considered more of a summer indulgence.

Growing up I wasn't a big potato salad fan because most of the time it's made with too much mayonnaise, a condiment I like only in very moderate portions and never so much that I feel like my mouth is full of it.  This potato salad recipe has only a half a cup of mayonnaise and just as much mustard which gives it just enough creaminess to compliment the potatoes and the sharp tang of mustard shines.

Mustard Potato Salad Recipe

makes 6 servings


8 medium red potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 red onion, diced fine
3 hard boiled eggs, roughly chipped
2 dill pickles, diced medium
1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh (minced)
20 grinds fresh pepper
1 tsp salt


Steam the potatoes until tender but not falling apart.  It usually takes about ten minutes for me but I rely more on testing with a fork than on timing.  When they're done put them in a large mixing bowl and let them cool for about fifteen minutes.

Once the potatoes are cooled down add the rest of the ingredients and stir them together well. 

This potato salad recipe is good eaten still warm or completely cold.

Recipe notes:  I used to make this potato salad with a couple of stalks of celery and if you like you can do this too.  I stopped being in the habit of using celery when I made greater efforts to shop seasonally for my produce.  Where I live celery is a late summer and early fall vegetable.  When using a large amount of prepared mustard try using a milder one first and then if you want it to be spicier try using a Dijon or experiment with other stronger prepared mustards.  The main thing is to remember that mustard is the star flavor in this recipe.

This recipe is gluten free IF the mustard you use doesn't use vinegar made with malt or wheat.

This recipe is NOT vegan.  To convert this recipe to be vegan: omit the eggs and use a vegan mayonnaise.
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