Day 44: Roasted Veg with Couscous and Feta
I realized today I was starving for more vegetables. In the bleak of Calgary midwinter, that means root veg, which is fine with me. (Actually, just because the farmers’ market isn’t overflowing with produce doesn’t mean that greens, tomatoes, asparagus and the like aren’t always available year-round. But for some reason, in February I appreciate winter vegetables more.)
Hands-down my favorite way to cook vegetables of any kind is to roast them. Roasting condenses them, imparts a smoky flavor, caramelizes natural sugars, and creates crispy bits. The small amount of oil you use is the kind we should all be eating more of, and you don’t need to butter them afterwards. I don’t know why anyone bothers with steaming, unless it’s frozen peas.
This is something I came up with years ago as a way to consolidate the contents of my fridge and pantry; I have never used a recipe. This is how you make it:
Chop any number of vegetables into coarse chunks; who cares if they are of varying size, and you get some softer pieces and some blackened bits. My favorite combos include yams and/or squash, beets, red peppers, zucchini, and an entire head of garlic, separated into cloves. Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with canola or olive oil and toss the vegetables on it. If you are using zucchini or asparagus, give the denser vegetables a head start, and add them to the pan halfway through. Same for the garlic, if you don’t like yours too dark. Don’t crowd the pan too much, or they’ll steam rather than browning properly. If you have a blackened pan, use it; darker sheets hold on to heat better and do a better job of browning things (which is why they aren’t so good for baking cookies). Roast at 450, tossing when you think of it, until they are done to your liking.
Making couscous (which is really teeny pasta bits) is as easy as making instant oatmeal: pour 1 1/4 cups boiling water over 1 cup of couscous (regular or whole wheat) in a bowl; cover with a plate and let sit for 5-10 minutes. What could possibly be easier? And that’s not even the instant stuff. Adjust the ratio according to how much you need to make.
Fluff the steamed couscous with a fork and scrape the roasted veg into it. Crumble in as much feta as you like, and toss while everything is still warm. This would probably be fantastic with a handful of shrimp, quickly sauteed in a little oil or butter and garlic.