Monday, October 13, 2008

Vegan MoFo: A New Creation -- Coconut Israeli Couscous With Cashews and Garam Masala

(Every time I see this brand of coconut milk I sing that French Kicks' song, Roland. Ro-Ro-land, blah blah blah BLAH, la laaaa la LAAAA, la LA! LA! LA! LA!)
Sunday we went to Fairway in Red Hook. I love Red Hook and imagine living there, it feels like you are in a little seaside town to me. Trey always says we could never live there because you can't get anywhere else from there, but that's what I like about it. Besides, what more do you need than Fairway and a view of the water?
Every time we go to Fairway we spend a ton of money, but since much of it is on bulk food items it ends up being a massive savings. Case in point: I cook at home almost every night. If I'm not cooking at home, Trey is eating leftovers and I bring leftovers to lunch at least 70% of the time. We make coffee at home, that's a savings of up to 8 dollars a day. When I first started "sleeping over" Trey would get two lattes from Lola's (now Magda's) a day. In the pre-gan days of yore it was not uncommon for us to go to Fada and blow close to 100 on dinner. Etc. Now we eat better at home and BQE Liquors is right around the corner, so I can get a whole bottle of bordeaux blanc for the price of a glass + tip. I digress though, I just love Fairway. They have organic French Lentils. Stay tuned.
They also had Israeli couscous in the bulk food aisle and I had been having it on the brain: I hadn't had it since (I think?) Ashbloem's wedding, and had been thinking it would be a nice thing to experiment with. I was craving the spicy tempeh I make fairly often, inspired by the VCon spicy grilled tempeh but I always tweak the sauce recipe and I bake it in the marinade for about 50 minutes so that the tempeh gets really saturated with the flavor and sort of falls apart in a delicious BBQ-y way. I thought that the israeli couscous could be a nice compliment to the tempeh ... but how to make it? I checked on the Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots in VCon: but I didn't have half of those things in the house -- and the only pistachios were the spicy ones Trey got for himself and I didn't want to mess with that. Plus those flavors seemed like they'd be upstaged by the tempeh. I needed something simpler.

Starting with coconut oil! I love coconut oil, even if I can't get the jar open half the time. I find it's a really good base oil when the flavor of olive oil or peanut oil might interfere with what you are going for.

I sauteed 5 cloves of minced garlic and a small diced white onion for about 2 minutes, then added 2 cups of the israeli couscous to toast it, stirring for about 5 minutes. (I'm using the VCon recipe as a guide here for liquid-to-couscous ratio and approximate cooking times.)

Then I added 1 can of Ro-Ro-Land coconut milk + enough water to equal 2 1/2 cups of liquid, added that to the pan, and then, because it smelled right, several generous shakes of garam masala (probably 1 tablespoon, a little more maybe) 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper. I let this boil and then covered it, reduced the heat to low until everything was absorbed. I had some diced green pepper ready to go but thought better of it and was glad I did. I let this cook on low for about 10 minutes and then stirred in some crushed cashews, and gave it another 5 minutes until it seemed the couscous had absorbed all it could.
Meanwhile, the spicy tempeh was done, as you can see, and I prepared a bunch of swiss chard and a handful of the braising greens from the CSA share in a wok: heating the wok, splashing in some coconut oil, adding some chopped garlic and ginger when the oil was HOT, and then tossing the chopped greens with some soy sauce and a splash of rice vinegar. This takes like 5 minutes, tops.

And here you go!! My beautiful plating!

I have to say this is one of the yummiest dinners I have ever made. The combination of the coconut milk with the garlic, salt, and garam masala made this almost like tapioca pudding but not too sweet: a really nice silky and comforting side for the spicy tempeh. Next time I will make the tempeh even spicier! I was glad I listened to my nose as I went along and didn't add anything too "green" to the coconut couscous.
Coconut Israeli Couscous with Garam Masala and Cashews
2 cups israeli couscous
1 can coconut milk + enough water to make 2.5 cups
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tsp salt
black pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions until they begin to soften, about 1-2 minutes. Add the couscous and stir constantly so it begins to toast, about 5 minutes.
Add the liquid (coconut milk and water), salt, garam masala and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on lowest heat for 10 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed. Add cashews and stir a bunch of times: cover again for another 5 minutes or until it seems like the couscous can't really absorb any more liquid -- use your judgment here. Serve with
Spicy Baked Tempeh
1 package of tempeh
3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup srirachi hot sauce (or any ol' hot sauce)
3 tbsp maple syrup
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 thumb-sized lump of ginger, minced
1 tsp cayenne powder
dashes of cumin and coriander
1 tsp molasses
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Preheat oven to 400. Slice the tempeh into 1/2-1/4 inch "fingers". Combine all marinade ingredients in a measuring cup. Place tempeh in a 9 x 14 baking dish and pour marinade over pieces, turning to coat. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes: then turn pieces over, re-cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes: then remove foil and bake uncovered for 10 more. Serve with couscous above and yummy greens.


Blogger For the Love of Guava said...

I've never tried my hand at couscous.. is it similar to quinoa?

1:20 PM  

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