Couscous … No Wheat, No Gluten??
Ok, I confess I’m stretching the definition of couscous.
In fact, this dish uses quinoa as if it were real couscous. The couscous is made from wheat flour (semolina) and I, in my effort to lower gluten consumption, prefer to substitute it with alternatives, of which quinoa is my favorite. I actually prefer the taste of quinoa or buckwheat to actual couscous.
By the way, buckwheat is also a great gluten-free alternative to recipes that include couscous or “fregola” – a much larger couscous often used, for example, by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Versatile Dishes Are My Favorites
In the book “Chegar novo a velho – receitas” there is a recipe called “reinvented Moroccan couscous”, which my friend Carolina has tried and loved. I decided to try it for two reasons: on one hand, it is made from roasted vegetables, which I love; on the other hand, is composed of ‘pieces’ that can be combined in other ways.
So, by cooking once, I get ingredients cooked for other meals. For those who often have lunch at home, it’s great to just have prepped ingredients to just “cut and paste”… a meal ready in a few minutes!
Vegetables … What Vegetables?
As always, I changed the original recipe. It’s stronger than me, I just can’t resist.
But there are good reasons: we are in the winter and therefore everything that is comforting and antioxidant has my heart. And stomach as well 😉
However, there are ingredients whose digestion is more difficult and, in my case, red peppers are one of them. Therefore, I reduced the amount of onion and red pepper and added sweet potatoes and carrots.
I also replaced the balsamic vinegar glaze, which I think is an unnecessary addition – after all, do we want to reduce sugar or not? – and used real balsamic vinegar.
Call me a snob … If I wanted to be even more of a purist, the juice of half a lemon would taste great, too.
Nutritional Benefits Worthy Of Being Mentioned
The book referred to gives out notes on each ingredient and the effect it can have on our body.
The eggplant base has a probiotic effect, excellent for making the lazier bowels work. It also has vitamin A, B3, B5 and C, calcium (great for my bones), potassium, phosphorus, and iron.
They say it helps lower blood pressure and there are also signs of the same effect on cholesterol. Well, had I read this paragraph earlier and I would have put more eggplant in!
The red pepper, the orange sweet potato I used and the carrots already have known antioxidant and cardiovascular disease prevention properties.
Pine nuts are also a healthy fat but this would be boring if I detailed more nutritional information. The best thing is to read the book. You can get it here.
And The “Couscous” Recipe?
The tougher point of this recipe is the dicing of all the vegetables, it takes a while. If you are in a hurry it is better to cut them into bigger pieces. But the work was worth it, they looked like precious stones on the tray.
I also thought it was a small amount for six people, as the recipe says. In fact, either we were very hungry or the quantities are incorrect because what we did was enough for three, tops, as the main course.
For three people
- 1 cup raw quinoa, cooked according to (here)
- 1 eggplant
- 2 orange sweet potatoes
- 1 purple onion
- ½ red pepper (use the whole if you wish)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Start by dicing all the vegetables, as in the photo.
- Season with melted coconut oil, salt, and black pepper.
- Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Move them a bit to ensure homogeneous cooking and leave them in the oven for another 10 minutes. They should be baked but not breaking apart.
- At this point prepare the quinoa, which should take 15 minutes at most. You have the recipe in another article here on Glow Chef: “Quinoa, how to use”.
- You can brown the pine nuts in a small frying pan. I didn’t do it because of a doctor, a few years ago, told me that by heating the nuts their fat gets less healthy…
- When the quinoa has cooled slightly, place it on a large plate, with the vegetables, pine nuts, and raisins on top. Season with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Done this way, this dish is a complete vegan and gluten-free meal. You can, however, use it as a side dish to roasted or stewed meat.
Practical Tip: Cook Once, Eat 3 Meals
Double the quinoa and vegetable recipe. Store in separate boxes and use the next day.
- as a side of roasted salmon, along with steamed broccoli.
- makes vegetarian sushi rolls, using your choice of veggie sticks, quinoa instead of rice, the whole rolled in nori seaweed.
The Baked Vegetables:
- as a side for grilled chicken steaks.
- as stuffing for portobello mushrooms, which you put in the oven for 20 minutes, with a crust of almond and crushed garlic (or, if in a rush, use powdered garlic) on top.
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