Chickpea tomato couscous ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

18 February 2013

Chickpea tomato couscous

chickpea tomato couscous

Well, my camera has suddenly started writing invisible junk data to its memory card. It still takes pictures, but it won't store them. So I'm pretty happy that I've had a backlog of pictures hanging out waiting to be edited, aren't you?

It was a good run, ridiculous little Canon point-and-shoot. Hey, over five years' worth of service in the kitchen is pretty great, considering all the sauce and steam and oil in the mix, right? I'm thinking I will take a small step up instead of leaping into the land of complex equipment I don't really know how to use. If any of you guys have recommendations for mid-range cameras that work well for food photography, let me know!

Anyway. Lunchtime!

Instant couscous is one of my favorite options for a super-fast meal. It costs just about nothing from the bulk bins. It's not perishable, so you can keep a container in your desk at work and whip it out whenever you have a food emergency. It's surprisingly filling, and can be a meal in itself if necessary. It's exceptionally easy to make--all you really need is boiling water and a little salt and pepper. And, of course, it makes a perfect backdrop for nearly any mix of vegetables, beans, and sauce. This time I had chickpeas, tomato sauce, and some carrot and red pepper. Voila! Lunch.

chickpea tomato couscous

Chickpea tomato couscous

olive oil
red bell pepper
cooked chickpeas
dry vermouth
tomato sauce
salt, pepper, red pepper flake, marjoram, oregano
parsley and green onion to garnish

Start out by making your couscous. Simply put as much couscous as you want to eat into a bowl, keeping in mind that it will expand by about half when cooked. Boil some water in your teapot and pour it over the couscous to cover by a finger's width. Add some salt, pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil, cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, and set it aside. It will steam while you cook all the vegetables.

Warm a glug of olive oil in a saute pan. Add as much minced garlic as you like. I like plenty, so I used three or four cloves for my lone lunch serving. Let the garlic soften over medium heat while you scrub and grate a carrot and slice up a chunk of bell pepper.

Add the carrot, bell pepper, and a bit of salt, and cook your vegetables together, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. When the vegetables are tender, add your chickpeas and season with pepper, red pepper flake, marjoram, and oregano. I used half a can of chickpeas, since I was only feeding myself, but you can easily up the amounts if needed. Stir everything together and cook for another three or four minutes. When the pan gets dry, deglaze with dry vermouth or some water.

Add your tomato sauce to the pan, stir, and bring to a simmer. Give everything a few minutes to cook before you taste and adjust the seasonings. Chickpeas can take a lot of flavor, so be prepared to add a bit more of everything. Continue to cook until the sauce has reduced to your desired thickness.

By this time your couscous should be finished steaming. Uncover the bowl and fluff with a fork. Top your couscous with a big spoonful of chickpeas and tomato. Garnish with chopped parsley and green onion.

chickpea tomato couscous

Now eat it!

Since I used oregano and marjoram as my main herbs, this turned out slightly Italianate. The red pepper, carrot, and tomato made the overall profile a bit sweet, while the red pepper flake punched everything up with spice. It would be really easy to switch out the herbs and turn this into a spicy tomato curry, to mix up the vegetables with some celery or mushrooms, or to exchange the chickpeas for white beans and puree into fagioli-type sauce. It's totally up to you. I think that's my favorite thing about knowing how to cook--the ability to improvise lets you use your available ingredients to cater precisely to your tastes. It's so satisfying.

What's your favorite melange to serve over a bowl of delicious grains?


foodfeud said...

Good luck with the camera situation, I know less than nothing about that sort of stuff - I just grab something and try to work with it.
The dish sounds great. I was never a huge fan of cous cous until I went to France and had a dish like this - vegetables and chickpeas in a tomatoey sauce. Recently have discovered what vermouth can do for a dish, too! Delicious.
You're right about how cheap it can be, too. Bonus.

Michelle said...

RIP Camera. I've been using the Canon Rebel XT, which you could probably get for super cheap now. It's a great intro to DSLRs if you're interested in trying. Otherwise my knowledge of cameras is crap. I sometimes eye Andrew's Canon 5D but it's far too much camera for me. The full frame is so swoon inducing though! Good luck!

This looks so good, especially with all the herbs. I've been looking for new 'keep in the desk' lunches. I go out a lot, but sometimes I just can't.

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I also have a little Canon point-and-shoot, the S90 (I think it's up to S110 now). Been using it for nearly three years and pretty happy with it, though I may upgrade in a year or two. Hope you get your situation sorted out.

Timely recipe, I just bought a brand new bag of couscous!

Jes said...

I love how bright and happy that bowl looks!

I really really really recommend the Cannon Rebel. Like Michelle said, it's pretty cheap these days and isn't hard to figure out. I haven't used a point and shoot in years, so no suggestions there...

Caz said...

Sorry to hear about your camera! I use a panasonic lumix G2, it's pretty compact for a DSLR. Canon is probably the way to go though. The chickpea tomato sauce looks delicious and while I can't personally eat cous cous I can see it working over quinoa really well. :)

Monet said...

Oh cameras! So much trouble. I wish I had a good recommendation. I'm about to upgrade to a really expensive one (eek!) Good luck on the search. This couscous looks just perfect though! Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I just ate a delicious dinner and I'm already hungry again :-) I hope you are having a great start to your week!

Hannah said...

Ugh, camera woes are the absolute worst. As much as I adore my Canon cameras, I've found that the point-and-shoots do have issues with memory cards and storage, especially as they age. Maybe it's just a sign that you're better suited to a dSRL? ;) Regardless, backlogs are definitely a lifesaver, and I'm so glad you were able to keep this little gem filed away. It looks perfectly delicious and hassle-free, unlike so many things...

Joanne said...

couscous is definitely an underused carb in my kitchen! I really need to stock it more often because it's so easy and fast to throw together! Love the flavors in this stew! I have a Canon Rebel and LOVE it! It's super user-friendly and definitely the least expensive of the DSLRs!

Ruthy @ omeletta said...

Your camera!! I would have died. Seriously. I have just an upgraded pint and shoot, a Canon Powershot, but I like it fine. Not too expensive but has a decent lens.
Also, instant couscous is my weeknight saviour! It's the easiest thing in the world. This looks great.

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

It was good that you didn't lose the pictures! That's something I'd worry first. :) Your chickpea tomato couscous looks healthy, light and delicious! Regarding the camera, I highly recommend a good DSLR and I even think refurbished one from Canon store is very decent (I used Mark ii refurbished for a short time before upgraded to mark iii and it was almost like a brand new).

Gourmantine said...

So sorry to hear about your camera, I'm not much of an expert, so can't advice much.
By the way, chickpeas with couscous in tomato sauce are just great!

EasyKoreanFood said...

Hello! I recently just started a youtube Korean food channel, EasyKoreanFood, where you can learn how to make fast and easy Korean food! It would mean the world to me if you took the time to check it out because I'm just starting out! Thanks!

Eileen said...

Thank you guys so much for all your recommendations! They were really useful, and much appreciated. I am breaking for the Lumix after careful consideration. Yay, new camera!