I included this easy, delicious recipe for couscous with asparagus, zucchini, sundried tomatoes, and pine nuts in my vegan lunch column for Food52 last week. As my editor and I were emailing about it, she asked me delicately whether I’d ever heard that couscous is in fact a tiny pasta, rather than a grain (which is what I’d called it). I said that no, I hadn’t, but that I was sure she was probably right, and right she was: couscous is indeed a teeny tiny pasta, made of small granules of durum wheat. Who knew?
In truth, I tend to overlook couscous, favoring bulgur wheat, quinoa, and millet instead. But when I found myself two weeks ago trying to brainstorm a lunch that would be both super fast and super elegant, I realized that couscous was the obvious choice. There’s something magical about a pasta/grain/whatever that cooks up in 5-10 minutes and is reliably good.
I used asparagus and zucchini in this recipe because a) they’re what I had, and b) I can’t stop eating asparagus right now–it’s probably my favorite spring vegetable. But you can definitely use other seasonal vegetables. Like so many of my recipes, this one is really just a template.
This lunch is good enough to serve to friends, and the dish itself is flavorful and filling enough to make as a quick weeknight supper, too. I’d serve it along with a big salad and/or some soup (maybe a chilled soup, now that the hot weather is on!).
If you want the vegetables to be a bit sweeter and have more depth of flavor, you can of course roast them. But that’ll take longer, which may defeat the purpose of a recipe like this. In any case, I hope you enjoy it!
Before I sign off, I wanted to say that I really appreciated some of the comments on yesterday’s weekend reading, especially the link I shared about being self-critical. They gave me some food for thought, and perhaps they’ll spark a follow up post. Lots to consider. I’m grateful, as always, for this smart and thoughtful community.