Friday, 7 February 2014

Smoke & Steam & In-Between

Zucchine Tonde con Couscous alla Paprika Affumicata & Lenticchie Rossi
Round Zucchini with Smoked Paprika & Red Lentil Couscous

Hmmm... a simple to make, yet exotic-tasting and delicious meal to end a busy week with... Sounds like a good idea to me... what do you all think? Aha! I thought you would agree somehow! 

Once of the best ingredients to whip-up a quick and satisfying meal of course is couscous, which is always versatile and is prepared in just 5 minutes... and taking maybe a minute longer, red lentils would make a good addition, I thought, to add body and a nice nutty flavor and make something good even better. And whaddaya know? I got lucky and as it turned-out, I was right! ;-)

I had one of those lovely, little green hand-grenade zucchini's which really are so much tastier... and I intended to use it! In order to create a little flavor explosion, I decided to team it with the aforementioned couscous and lentils, some fresh ginger,  onion, Spring onion, mint, parsley, raisins, a tiny red bell pepper and some delicious smoked paprika powder... simple stuff, but a great combination!

To make this, I cut the zucchini up into slices/wedges and popped them into a frying pan with a little sesame oil. Whilst that was beginning to sizzle gently, I chopped up about 1" of ginger finely and sliced up the onion, lengthways, and added them next. I then added just enough boiling water to cover the base of the frying pan, put on the lid and got busy slicing up the baby red pepper and the Spring onion finely... they would be going in next!

After just 1-2 minutes of steaming with the lid on, I added 3 tablespoons of red lentils and 4 tablespoons of couscous, as well as that red pepper and the Spring onion. Now it was time to season as well, so I added salt and pepper and a level teaspoon of that wonderful smoked paprika- delicious!

I topped up the frying pan with boiling water again and replaced the lid to let it simmer away for a further 2-3 minutes and in the meantime, I chopped up the mint and parsley nice and finely, ready to be added the next time that the lid came off- which would be very soon of course!

2-3 minutes later, I removed the lid and stirred everything through, making sure that everything got thoroughly mixed. I added a squeeze of lemon, just for a hint of freshness, a handful of raisins for a hint of sweetness and little more sesame oil- just to make it even more well-rounded and delicious. I adore sesame oil and the way it only takes a couple of drops to make so much difference!

So basically, all that was done here was to add water to the couscous and lentils at just a shot at a time, replacing the lid to let them steam, 3 times in a row and that was all there was to it! The seasoning and spicing seem very simple, but smoked paprika has such a rich and complex flavor that a.) you don't need much of it and b.) you will be glad you didn't add anything else that might have spoilt it!

The mint and parsley are almost mandatory when it comes to couscous dishes in my humble opinion, the raisins add that touch of exotic sweetness and trust me- the combination is simply good. And what's not to love about good food? Especially when it can be so easy to make!  Maybe you will try it yourselves sometime... I for one know that I will be making this again! And again... and again...

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