foodie friday: paella with couscous

Paella is pretty cool. Paella with couscous is amazing. Think big flavor, fast, simple, and a one dish wonder. It’s a Spanish dish that’s traditionally made with rice, beans, and meat. But it’s so flexible that you can make it to cater your needs.

I found this recipe at kitchen simplicity. It’s originally from Light and Tasty, so yea it’s gotten around. If you’ve ever cooked coucous then you probably know that it’s just a tiny tiny pasta and cooks lightyears faster than rice. I love the texture, the speed, and how it lends itself to so many uses. It just absorbs flavor.

So here’s how I made it, with some changes from the original. If you don’t have an ingredient, make a substitution or if you have picky children, change things up. But here is my biggest piece of advice, for this dish and others. Mise en place. Oh yea. We’re getting French up in here. It means everything in its place. Food network guppies use it all the time, and to be honest, it used to piss me off. I thought they were just trying to be fancy. I mean who really cuts up all their food ahead of time and wastes 10 small bowls?!  Ridiculous! 

Ay. They were right. But don’t go telling them, alright? After a few cooking disasters and burnt food, I started this method. It makes everything easier and smoother. You know you have all your ingredients before you get started. But more importantly, it frees up your time, your hands, and your attention. You can watch your dish come together. The more you do this, the better you get at picking up on cues [when to turn the meat, when to add the oil, etc]. So just do it. And thank me later.

Now, pick a really big/wide pan. This will allow the coucous to cook faster and allow room for everything since the pasta will expand as it cooks. Heat it up. Throw in some olive oil. Sautee your bell pepper of choice. Once he’s good and sweaty, add the green onions and garlic. I use a micrograter for my garlic. I find the garlic will just melt away into your dish and be dispersed evenly, without the chance of chunks. He’s my buddy. 

Don’t look away now! The smaller the garlic, the better its chances are of burning. Keep your eye on that sucker. Give him a two minute curfew. You can eliminate or decrease the amount if you have kids but it’s not even noticeable to me. Alas, I will not look if you choose to do so.
Once everyone has become acquainted, pour in the broth and seasonings. Let simmer. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then pour in your couscous, frozen peas, and a tablespoon of butter. I won’t judge you if you use more. Nope. I saw nothing. 

Remove from direct heat. Cover with a lid or tin foil and let stand. The original recipe claims to let it set for about 5 minutes. I let mine rest for about 15 minutes. I know it’s a big difference. But you want all of the extra broth soaked up by the pasta. And with my pan being quite crowded, that’s what I did to make it work. Just make sure it’s not on direct heat or you could burn it. Throw some parsley or cilantro on top and go to town.

I really hope you enjoy this dish and alter to you and your family’s needs. It makes a lot and is really filling. Try it with a salad. Or substitute some whole wheat couscous if you want to last a little longer at work! Enjoy.

Paella with couscous:
1 cubed red bell pepper
6 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
3 ½ cups chicken broth [or vegetable]
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne
1 lb shrimp
2 cups couscous
1 cup frozen peas
1 T butter

Heat large skillet on medium. Add oil once warm. Add bell pepper and cook until translucent,  about 2-3 minutes. Add onions and garlic. Cook about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and spices. Let it come to a boil. Add shrimp. Simmer for about 2 minutes. Add couscous, peas, and butter. Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for about 10 minutes. This will depend on the size of your pan. Keep peaking until all liquid seems to be absorbed by the pasta. Enjoy!

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