Monday, 3 December 2012

Multicolored Parcels!

Barbabietola, Couscous, Feta e Erbe Miste in Cartoccio
Beet, Couscous, Feta & Herb Parcel

Normally, when you give someone you love a gift, you fret and fuss about the wrapping paper and making it look precious and pretty for them. Or cool. Or exciting. You don't usually wrap it in brown paper- that is fine for getting something through the mail, but not as I said, for that special someone and that special something... or is it?

The fun thing about my brown paper parcel this evening, is that it concealed the prettiest, tastiest supper- all of the beauty was on the inside! And because none of the wonderful aromas could escape... so was all of the flavor!

Once again, this is just another fun way to present a simple dish, but this "gimmick" of wrapping food in paper or foil and finishing the cooking process in the oven, creating a steam-oven of sorts, is a great way of boosting the natural flavors and aromas of you food- so it is not just fun and games. But is IS fun all the same!

In order for this dish to work, the beets need to be steamed or boiled beforehand. So that is what I did- I steamed then for 45 minutes and then cut them into wedges, which I drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. All of the fun flavors are yet to come...

Next, I prepared the couscous by adding a little crushed garlic to it, salt, pepper, a little lemon juice, chopped parsley and a little grated ginger, then covering it just barely with boiling water. I let it sit for 5 minutes and in the meantime plucked some rosemary and thyme leaves ready to finish everything off...

I lined an oven-proof dish with a sheet of  baking paper and pressed it down into shape, then spooned the couscous into it and arranged the wedges of beet around evenly. I then sprinkled a little Feta cheese around on top for added seasoning, texture and flavor and sprinkled everything generously with the herbs. I seasoned once more with coarsely ground pepper and sea salt, added a last drizzle of olive oil and honey and folded the paper closed. I then dampened the paper, so that it would stay down and in place- simply by moistening my hands with water first and then with a little oil. The oil will help preventing the paper from drying out and burning too quickly!

But it doesn't take that long in the oven- 10-15 minutes at 300° should be sufficient to bring everything up to temperature and to build up lots of steam and aroma in that parcel! And it is such a pretty site when you open it up! I added a drizzle of balsamic glaze to mine, to counterpoint the sweetness of the beets and to liven up the couscous- it was pretty fantastic! Those of you who prefer to dismiss the balsamic are free to do so... it will still taste great! But you WILL be missing out on something- haha! Whatever you do, give it a try- and enjoy yourselves! Bon apetit!

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