Thursday, 31 January 2013

Vermillion Dollar Dinner!

Cavolo Rosso in Agrodolce con Cuscus & Cumquat
Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage & Couscous with Cumquats

The color is indeed rather vermillion... but I am not sure that the meal cost much more than one dollar to make- I kid you not! This is another meatless, no-fuss, quick, easy and tasty dish that you can rustle up in just 15 minutes. The ingredients were just a quarter of a small red cabbage, 2-3 cumquats, a Spring onion, a little parsley and a cupful or so of couscous... oh and some spices... so okay, let me say a couple of dollars because there was some lemon juice, a slice or two of ginger and a little honey in there too. But you get the idea! Nothing fancy or expensive... just simple and yummy food!

I think food should always have a contrast of sweet and sour, mild and spicy, soft and crunchy... that's what makes a good meal in my book. It needn't be expensive- it just needs to have a bit of imagination and a lot of flavor! And if it can be light and healthy, like this meal- then all the better!

I started off by copping up the red cabbage finely and boiling it, in just enough water to cover it, in my frying pan. That sounds strange, right? Well... it wasn't really. I often do that when cooking small quantities of food as it gives me a larger surface area for cooking and saves time. The important thing here was to add the juice of a lemon, right at the beginning, as this insured that the cabbage retained its red color and did not turn blue- which is what happens if the cabbage remains alkali... it's a chemical thing. Don't ask me why! Red cabbage is just made that way!

So- I let the cabbage bubble away for 5 minutes or so, until the water was evaporated and the cabbage had begun to soften considerably. I then added some grated ginger, cinnamon, nuztmeg, salt, pepper, finely chopped parsley and the chopped cumquats. I added enough boiling water again to cover everything and stirred all of the ingredients together well. After 2-3 minutes, I added the finely chopped Spring onion and the couscous. Again- I stirred everything together well until the couscous had absorbed all of the liquids... and of course all of the flavors. 

I topped up the water again for one last time, gave it one last stir and then let it sit and soak up the juices and flavors and become nice and fluffy... and oh what a color it was!

I added the honey at the end of the cooking time, whilst the couscous was fluffy but still piping hot, and served it up with a drizzle of sesame oil, agarnish of a little more finely chopped parsley and a few paper-thin slices of a medium hot fresh chili pepper... yum, yum! With the sour lemon tang as well as the bitter-sweet cumquat flavor, the sweet honey and the ginger and spice... it was a real treat in every way- least of all visually! Served either hot like this, or cold as a salad, this is an easy dish that I hope you enjoy... because I for one did so intensely!

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