Despite this having nothing to do with the dishes that my husband and I ate growing up, this recipe has quickly transported itself into the "comfort food" category in our family. It is quick, inexpensive, and filling. The flavor combination was inspired by traditional Moroccan and Indian flavors, and I was lucky in that I nailed what I was going for on the first try. The only ingredient that you'll have to hunt for is the Iraeli couscous -- it's quite a bit larger than regular couscous. The larger grain gives it a wonderful al dente chewiness. We've found it at some natural food stores in the Twin Cities, but you can also find it online here: http://www.amazon.com/Israeli-Couscous-8-8-Ounce-igourmet-com/dp/B000OCTJLK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=gourmet-food&qid=1225836326&sr=8-2 . Trader Joes also carries it, but their own brand is a smaller bag and you have to adjust the cooking liquid down by about 1/4 cup, otherwise it works great.
1 8.8 oz bag of Iraeli Couscous
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
1 TBS butter
1 medium to large onion, diced very small
Zest and juice from one large orange
2 cups of chicken stock (don't use reduced sodium)
1 tsp garam masala (special Indian spice mixture, most grocery stores carry this)
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, toasted
In large, deep saucepan warm butter and olive oil over medium high heat until just frothy. Add onion and fry until the onion is deep golden brown. If you don't think you've nearly burned the onion, you haven't cooked it long enough. I've made this dish and not let the onion go as far, and the depth of flavor in the finished product just isn't as good. Add the dry couscous and cook until some of the pasta takes on a golden color as well. It should look like this:
Add the garam masala and stir for a minute to "bloom" the spice. Add orange juice, orange zest, and chicken stock. Stir. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook at a simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until the couscous is cooked through and the cooking liquid is absorbed. You may have to add a little extra stock or orange juice if the liquid all disappears before the pasta is done completely. Stir well, remove from heat, and add the toasted walnuts. Serve.
This dish is wonderful on it's own with a crisp green salad or roasted cauliflower, or as a side dish alongside roasted meats. You could also make it vegetarian/vegan by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth, if you want. It would also look great with a little chopped parsely or cilantro thrown in, but the garam masala is a very delicate flavor so I opt to leave it as is.