Spiced Vegetable Couscous 6.000

Len Spoden for The Washington Post

Chef on Call Aug 20, 2008

Don't be dismayed by the number of ingredients. The vegetables are easy to prep, and they help to build a flavorful sauce.

Make the effort to find garam masala, an Indian spice blend, at a specialty store instead of using generic curry powder. For a little extra flavor, vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you do not require a meatless dish) may be substituted for the water used in the vegetables and the couscous.

Servings: 6 - 8 main-course
  • For the vegetables
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons garam masala (see headnote)
  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/2 cups baby-cut carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Water
  • 6 medium-size ripe plum tomatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 14- or 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves (from 3 to 4 stems)
  • For the couscous
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups couscous


For the vegetables: Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until they have softened but not browned. Add the tomato puree and garam masala. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and warmed through.

Add the cauliflower, carrots and red bell pepper, mixing well. Add enough water to cover the vegetables halfway. Increase the heat to high so the liquid comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are cooked through but not mushy.

Add the tomatoes, zucchini and chickpeas; cook, covered, for 10 minutes (the tomatoes will have broken down, saucelike), then add the salt, black pepper and cilantro. (The vegetables can be prepared to this point 1 day in advance and kept refrigerated. Reheat before serving.)

For the couscous: Meanwhile, combine the 2 cups of water, the salt and butter in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add the couscous, stirring until it is all moistened. Cover the pan and let stand for 3 minutes.

To assemble: Use a fork to fluff the couscous, separating the grains. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and spoon the vegetables on top, along with any liquid. Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

From chef Susan Holt of CulinAerie.

Tested by Susan Holt and David Hagedorn.

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