All posts tagged lunch

  • pearl couscous with chickpeas and vegetables

    pearl couscous with chickpeas and vegetables

    I was going through old photos recently and found this:


    It’s probably the first dish Cory and I ever made together. During my first trip to San Francisco, we had a picnic at Golden Gate Park. It was a typical San Francisco summer day — 60 degrees, windy, and the sun was nowhere to be seen, but that made no difference to us. Cory had only been living in the city for about three weeks, so everything was new and exciting. We spotted an eagle in a nearby tree, sipped on pomegranate juice, noshed on scones from Trader Joe’s, and shared a delicious couscous and vegetable dish that we prepared together earlier that day. Cory asked me to marry him. In EverQuest (as a joke, of course). It was all very romantic, obviously.

    Once I saw the photo, I had a sudden urge to recreate the dish. Our local market sells pearl couscous on the cheap and I’ve been buying it up to use as a base for easy lunches. The key to ensure this dish is a success is to not cook all the vegetables at once. If you do, you’ll end up with sad soggy zucchini. We’ve had a lot of picnic friendly days lately, but have resorted to eating lunch on the deck so this little California girl can join enjoy the sun too:

    izzygoo outdoors

    I don’t remember where we originally found the recipe. AllRecipes, maybe? Just from glancing at the old photo, I think I reproduced the dish fairly accurately, although I would’ve used more curry powder if I hadn’t run out. This is a delicious lunch, perfect for sunny springtime picnics and packed lunches.

    Pearl Couscous with Chickpeas and Vegetables

    8 ounces of pearl/Israeli couscous, cooked according to package directions
    2 cans of 15-oz chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
    1 small red onion, chopped
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 zucchinis, chopped into bite sized pieces, about 1/3″ thick
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons golden raisins
    1 tablespoon curry powder (I only used about 2 teaspoons before running out)
    salt & pepper, to tastes
    1/2 cup parsley and/or cilantro, chopped
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    Cook pearl couscous according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

    Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. In a large stockpot, cook oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and jalapeno, then cook until translucent or about 5-7 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the carrots and stir frequently, for about 3-5 minutes. Then add the red bell pepper. Repeat the same process as before, cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add the zucchini and stir frequently for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and raisins let it cook for about 30 seconds. Now thoroughly mix the curry powder, salt, and pepper into the mix. Incorporate the chickpeas, couscous, herbs, and olive oil into the pot, stir until mixed. You may want to cook the mixture for a few more minutes, to make sure everything is heated through. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Serves about 5

  • orzo with mixed vegetables

    orzo with mixed vegetables

    I’ve been slipping in my meal planning. My mind has been on other things, like preparing for another cross-country move. Honestly, there isn’t much I really need to do another couple months, but it’s easy to get distracted looking at apartment listings and adding restaurants to an already unwieldy spreadsheet. And so, after spending who knows how long getting lost on Google street view, obsessively checking Walkscore, and reading Yelp reviews for grocery stores (yeah, I’m a very cool lady), I feel a rumbling in my stomach and realize oh yeah, what’s for lunch?

    I long for spring, you know real spring. Not the kind of spring where it still snows, but the return of bountiful produce — fiddlehead ferns, fava beans, watercress, and fresh peas. Until then, I’ll continue stocking up on frozen vegetables. Which is still pretty okay, because this was orzo dish was really tasty. And it lasted us three lunches, which gave me time to go back to reading Yelp reviews… and playing 2048.

    Orzo with Mixed Vegetables

    1 pound orzo
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, or water
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    2 1/2 cups mixed vegetables (I used a mix of corn, carrots, peas, green beans, and edamame)
    1 tablespoon mix of dried herbs of your choice (basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
    cayenne pepper, to taste
    salt & pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoons pine nuts

    In a large stockpot, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.

    Melt butter in the stockpot over medium low heat. Once melted, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add the broth and mix in the tomato paste. Toss in the vegetables and cook until heated through. This should only take a few minutes. Once the vegetables are ready, add the herbs, spices, salt, pepper, and parmesan and mix. Now add the orzo to the pot and mix thoroughly. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the pine nuts. Keep on the stove a few minutes longer until heated through, stirring frequently. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

    Serves 6

  • pearl couscous with sweet potatoes, pistachios, and herbs

    pearl couscous with sweet potato herbs and pistachios 2

    Several weeks ago when one of my favorite food bloggers, Faith of An Edible Mosaic, announced that she was co-hosting a Food Blogger Cookbook Swap with Alyssa from Everyday Maven, I jumped on board right away. I sent The Turkish Kitchen over to Karen of Kitchen Treaty, a cookbook I picked up in a bookstore off the winding streets of Cihangir, Istanbul back in 2012.

    I received The Meat Free Monday cookbook from Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler. The cookbook was edited by Stella, Paul, and Mary McCartney. I knew that Paul McCartney was a vegetarian, which of course I learned from The Simpsons. Although I’ve seen mention of meat free Mondays/meatless Mondays on food blogs over the years, I had no idea that they were the ones who launched the campaign back in 2009. Even though I’ll chant “you don’t win friends with salad” until the end of my days, that’s really only because it’s catchy and doesn’t necessarily reflect the way I eat. I was excited to dive into the cookbook.

    meat free monday cookbook and izzy goo in her sunny seatBonus Izzy shot

    I grew up in a typical steak and potatoes American household, where a meal without meat is not a meal at all. To this day, my dad’s preferred dinner includes a giant slab of meat, with a side of potatoes or rice, and some vegetables. I was such a picky eater as a kid and hated most meat. My mom bought chicken nuggets for me over and over again until I learned to like them, since she was worried I didn’t eat enough meat. I’m still a picky meat eater, I only buy about 5-6 pounds of meat a month for the two of us, mostly ground beef and lamb. I prefer meat as an enhancement to a dish rather taking center stage, like slipping ground meat into sauces, sprinkling a little bit of sausage over a pizza, and adding chicken stock to a soup. If you serve me a giant slab of chicken breast, I’ll take a couple bites and dump it onto Cory’s plate when he’s not looking. Or when he’s looking. It just ain’t my thing, so many of the recipes in the Meat Free Monday cookbook are right up my alley. The cookbook is divided into 52 chapters, with meal plans for every Monday of the year — meatless breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts.

    One recipe in particular that caught my eye was a pearl couscous and sweet potato dish. Surprise, I found a recipe with a Middle Eastern-inspired slant and had to make it. You start off by sauteing the pearl couscous until lightly browned. I hadn’t prepared couscous that way before and was delighted to discover that it gave the couscous a slightly nutty taste. Pistachios give this dish a nice crunch and raisins are added for a pleasant burst of sweetness. The recipe calls for a tablespoon of za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix that consists of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Sumac can be found at any Middle Eastern grocery, but if you don’t want to run out and buy some just for one recipe, just add a little more lemon to this dish, since sumac is sour. Cory and I have been eating this for lunch and loving it. If you love leftovers as much as I do, double the recipe and lunch is covered for the week. Thanks for the sweet new cookbook, Cher!

    pearl couscous with sweet potato herbs and pistachios

    Other news:
    – Happy birthday, mom! I can’t believe you’re 39 again!
    – Big batch of new save the dates are available in the shop, with more coming this weekend. Since you read the blog, feel free to use the coupon code BLOGLOVE10 to receive 10% off your order.

    Pearl Couscous with Sweet Potatoes, Pistachios, and Herbs
    Adapted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

    3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
    1 tablespoon maple syrup
    6 tablespoons olive oil (2 for the sweet potatoes, 2 for sauteing the couscous, and 2 for just before serving)
    1 1 3/4 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous
    2 cups vegetable stock or water
    1/4 cup raisins
    1 tablespoon za’atar (1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon sumac, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds)
    1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
    1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
    salt and pepper, to taste
    1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley
    1/3 cup freshly chopped cilantro

    Preheat oven to 400F.

    Add the sweet potatoes to a roasting pan, coat them with olive oil, a little bit of salt and pepper, and maple syrup. Mix thoroughly. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, check on the sweet potatoes to see if they’re cooked through. Once the potatoes are tender and caramelized around the edges, they’re ready. If they need more time, put them back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes.

    While the sweet potatoes are roasting, get the couscous ready. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan or stock pot over low-medium heat. When hot, add the couscous and stir frequently. Keep the couscous cooking until it begins to brown, or about 5-7 minutes. Add half of the stock or water and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often until the couscous is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Continue adding the liquid until absorbed, stirring frequently. Taste test the couscous for doneness. When cooked through, lower the heat to very low and stir in the raisins, chopped up pistachios, za’atar, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice, mix, and give a taste test. Add more lemon juice, if necessary. Mix in the parsley and cilantro.

    By now, the sweet potatoes should be ready. Mix them into the pot. Ladle into bowls and serve.

    Serves 4

    Want to see more from the Food Blogger Cookbook swap? Here is the list of all the participants. Yay, food!

    A Baker’s House
    An Edible Mosaic
    Blue Kale Road
    Blueberries And Blessings
    Cheap Recipe Blog
    Confessions of a Culinary Diva
    Create Amazing Meals
    Cucina Kristina
    Culinary Adventures with Camilla
    Cupcake Project
    Dinner is Served 1972
    Done With Corn
    Eats Well With Others
    Everyday Maven
    Flour Me With Love 
    From My Sweet Heart 
    Great Food 360° 
    Healthy. Delicious. 
    I’m Gonna Cook That! 
    Je Mange la Ville 
    Karen’s Kitchen Stories 
    Kitchen Treaty 
    Olive and Herb
    OnTheMove-In The Galley 
    Our Best Bites 
    Paleo Gone Sassy
    poet in the pantry 
    Rhubarb and Honey 
    Rocky Mountain Cooking
    Shikha la mode 
    Shockingly Delicious
    Sifting Focus 
    Spoonful of Flavor 
    Tara’s Multicultural Table 
    The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler 
    The Suburban Soapbox 
    The Whole Family’s Food