Hurry Up Vegan: Couscous with Asparagus, Zucchini, Sundried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts
May 13, 2014

Couscous with Asparagus, Zucchini, Sundried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

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.

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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.

couscous with asparagus sundried tomato zucchini
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Couscous with Asparagus, Zucchini, Sundried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Yields: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat or regular couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups water or low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 bunch asparagus cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini sliced lengthwise and then cut into thin half moon shapes
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes chopped into small pieces (oil packed or dry and rehydrated is fine, though I prefer oil packed)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup chives chopped

Instructions

  • 1. Bring the water or broth to boil. Add the couscous and sea salt, and stir it thoroughly. Remove the pot from heat, cover it, and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and set it aside.
  • 2. While you wait for the water to boil (or the couscous to sit), heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add the asparagus and zucchini and sautee them until they're bright green and very tender (7-10 minutes). Season them to taste with salt and pepper.
  • 3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked couscous, the lemon juice, the tomatoes, the cooked vegetables, the pine nuts, and the chives. Season it all to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

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!).

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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.

xo

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Categories: Dinner, Main Dishes

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    9 Comments
  1. Not sure why I haven’t cooked with couscous more, as I love it and it’s so nice and fluffy. I can’t wait to find asparagus on sale at my supermarket, this whole dish looks absolutely delicious!

  2. I love couscous, not too mention everything else you added, I think I’ll try this recipe out for sure, thanks for sharing it with us..

  3. “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?”

    This is my favorite part of the post.

    (I also used to think couscous was a grain 🙂 )

  4. This looks amazing! I wonder if you can substitute fresh chopped tomatoes for the sundried ones? Do you think they’d hold up to the heat well? I can also see fresh basil making an appearance here. The possibilities are endless! Thanks, Gena!

  5. I think I burned out on couscous as I ate it SO much of it in my early student days before I learnt to cook, but I think it’s time to revisit it.
    Move over quinoa!
    This looks like a lovely spring supper.

  6. Looks delicious and I love the pine nuts mixed in….so pricey but worth the expense sometimes for their flavor. Definitely special enough to serve to friends for lunch or dinner I’d say! Thanks Gena.