Ride The Couscous Express

Copyright 1994 The Chicago Tribune
From Knight-Ridder Newspapers/Tribune Information Services
Selected and Prepared by Tribune Media Services

By Pat Dailey
Chicago Tribune 

Living alone paves the way for enormous latitude and self-indulgence when it comes to
dinner. There is no negotiation or any need to accommodate a taste that is more hungry,
less hungry or hungry for something different.

But it also has cultivated a quick-cooking mentality. Toil over a meal when there is no
adoring and grateful audience? Not a chance.

What, then, for dinner? Possibilities abound: A bowl of stone-ground grits with some
cheese and pepper. Or a plate of roasted asparagus barely annointed with olive oil. A
zap-baked potato all smashed up with cottage cheese. Two perfect soft-shell crabs,
sauteed with chipotle butter. Sliced tomatoes with sushi vinegar and cilantro. And some
nights, nothing other than a half carton of Haagen-Dazs lemon sorbet will do.

Couscous is one of the godsends for a hunger that won't wait. Boil water. Add couscous.
Eat. What follows is a slightly more elaborate formula that flirts with the Middle Eastern
roots of couscous, taking time-saving liberties with the classic.


Preparation time: 10 minutes
Standing time: 5 minutes
Microwave cooking time: 3 minutes
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
1 cup instant couscous
1/3 cup dried currants
2/3 cup boiling water or vegetable broth
1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with chilies
1/2 cup tiny frozen peas, thawed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, cayenne pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1. Combine couscous and currants in a medium bowl. Pour boiling water or broth over.
Mix with a fork so all couscous is moistened, cover and let stand 5 minutes.

2. Combine drained chickpeas and tomatoes with their liquid in a microwave-safe dish
(or small saucepan). Microwave on high power (or cook) until hot, 3 minutes. Add peas,
cumin, salt and cayenne; mix well.

3. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste to couscous; fluff with a fork to separate grains.
Spoon into serving bowl; top with chickpea mixture and sprinkle cilantro over.

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