- SERVINGS: 4
The word couscous refers to both the tiny semolina pearls themselves and to the dish of couscous topped with a hearty stew, just as other types of pasta are pasta whether dressed with a sauce or not. Here, butternut squash substitutes for the pumpkin more commonly found in North Africa.
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with their juice (from one 15-ounce can)
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (one 19-ounce can)
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups couscous
- In a small frying pan toast the almonds over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Or, toast them in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, nutmeg, and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes, squash, raisins, broth, and 1 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the chickpeas and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes more. Stir in the parsley.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve the stew over the couscous and top with the toasted almonds.
For the best effect, look for a soft, fruity red wine to contrast with the spicy flavors of the couscous. The plummy flavor and supple texture of a rich California Merlot will make a terrific match.