After what might have been the perfect weeknight steak dinner, I’m sure you were expecting me to make a cocktail or dessert, not a side dish. It’s true, the Broiled Steak & Asparagus with Feta Cream Sauce I just made doesn’t need a side dish, but I couldn’t pass up this Herbed Couscous Pilaf. The truth is I’m not a confident menu planner. I don’t know the ‘rules’ of pairing food, I just pick things I like and hope for the best. And I lucked out this week! So without further ado, let’s give this ‘unnecessary’ side dish a whirl!
I adapted this recipe I found in the October 2010 issue of Cooking Light that was healthy, flavorful, and delicious. This recipe is extremely quick and simple to make – which is perfect for a busy week night.
I had some difficulties, shall we say, in finding the ingredients for this recipe. On the surface, things looked great. I found all the ingredients online and placed my order.
I’ve had trouble finding whole wheat couscous in the past, and I was delighted to find it available this week. Only I didn’t realize it was pearl couscous, and the grains are much larger than the regular couscous I’m used to. That meant this type would take longer to cook than what was specified in the recipe, though I didn’t realize that until I was cooking (more on that later).
I was also pleased to find garlic olive oil until I got the text saying it was out of stock. No biggie, I figured I could try another store or order it and stumbled upon a recipe for Garlic-Infused Olive Oil. No extra trip for a single ingredient needed, just some EVOO, a few garlic cloves, and half an hour of simmering. I can do that!
Lastly, I couldn’t find a small can of chicken broth, so I used powdered bouillon. It’s quick, never spoils, and so good to have around for these situations.
It turns out that this was a quick and easy recipe, although the pearl couscous did make the cooking time longer than what was listed. The time listed was 15 minutes, and the larger couscous grains doubled that to 30 minutes. And it was worth it!
Everything went according to the instructions until I noticed the water hadn’t been absorbed after standing for 5 minutes. Then I read the back of the couscous bag and realized the problem (duh!). I put the pan back on the stove and cooked it until the water was absorbed. That did the trick.
I do try to follow the recipe as closely as possible, so I felt this one needed a do-over to keep things fair. I made it again a couple of nights later with regular couscous. It wasn’t whole wheat, but the grains were much smaller, reducing the cooking time greatly.
This time the herbed couscous pilaf was ready in 15 minutes, but it didn’t have quite as much flavor as the whole wheat version. Not that it wasn’t delicious (it really was) but the whole wheat version kind of blew it away.