I was spending a rare Sunday afternoon alone at home and trying to decide what to have for lunch. I hadn’t gone grocery shopping in awhile so there wasn’t much in the fridge, but I was too lazy to go out and eat.
I took another look in the fridge, and I saw that I had half an onion, a red bell pepper, part of a large zucchini, two carrots and some dill that was about to go bad. Then I remembered I had some couscous in my pantry.
I decided to sauté the vegetables and then serve them on a bed of couscous tossed with brown butter.
I almost always cook by recipe, but I’ve been trying to wean myself from constantly following directions and actually cook.
So that’s what I did.
I chopped everything first, which is so important and basic, but I always forget to do it. Having everything ready just makes everything easier.
I measured out my couscous, saw that I had about two cups, and then I racked my brain for the right ratio. Did I need to add boil one cup of water or two? I decided that even though couscous is really pasta, it’s a lot like rice so I went with a 1:1 ratio and boiled two cups of water. Then I threw in the dried couscous and put a lid on the pot to let it steam.
I added some olive oil to a pan and cooked the onion and bell pepper first until they were tender to build a sweet base of flavor. Then I added in the carrots and zucchini. I knew the carrots would take a while to soften, but it was so tempting to rush the process, especially because I was hungry! I was able to be patient though, which was good because it wouldn’t have been appetizing to have nice caramelized onion and bell pepper and raw zucchini and hard carrot.
I wanted some protein to make it a filling meal so I opened a can of garbanzo beans, gave them a quick rinse with water and added them to the veggies until they were heated through.
I wasn’t really sure when to add the dill, but I thought putting it in toward the end of the cooking process would help it retain a bright flavor so when everything was heated through, I threw in the dill and added salt and pepper. Then I tasted it and adjusted the seasoning.
It was pretty good!
I browned some butter in another pan, poured it over the cooked couscous and fluffed it with a fork.
Finally, it was time to eat. I put a mound of couscous on a plate and piled the vegetables and garbanzo beans on top. I took a bite, and it was pretty tasty, but I needed something. I considered what was missing, and then I thought, “lemon juice.” Luckily, I had a leftover lemon in the fridge. A quick squeeze, and my dish was complete.
After years of reading recipes and watching cooking shows, I finally had the confidence to follow my own way in the kitchen. It felt good and tasted even better.