Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recipe : Couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash

dinners with friends dinner with friends blog

Our friend Dea made this amazingly fragrant couscous for a fun family dinner {photos here} at her cool home in London the other day (adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's "The Cookbook", one of my favorite new oookbooks).

Like so many of Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes, the combination of spices and fresh herbs adds some unexpected layers to a simple couscous dish ...

the ingredients.
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons olive oil
50g (2 oz) dried apricots
1 small butternut squash, about 450g (1 lb), peeled, seeded, and cut into 2cm (1") dice

250g (8 oz) couscous
400ml (2 cups) chicken, or vegetable stock
a pinch of saffron strands
3 tablespoons roughly chopped tarragon
3 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
3 tablespoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
grated zest of ½ lemon
coarse sea salt and black pepper

the instructions.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C (360˚F).

Place the onion in a large frying with 2 tbsp of the oil and a pinch of salt. Saute over a high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 min, until golden brown. Set aside.

Meanwhile, pour enough hot water from the tap over the apricots just to cover them. Soak for 5 min, then drain and cut into 5mm dice. Peel the butternut squash and cut into small dice.


Mix the diced squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and some salt and pepper.

Spread the squash out on a baking tray, place in the oven and bake for about 25 min, until lightly coloured and quite soft.

While waiting for the butternut squash, cook the couscous. Bring the stock to the boil with the saffron. Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl, and pour the boiling stock over it, plus the remaining olive oil. Cover with cling film and leave for about 10 min; all the liquid should have been absorbed.

Use a fork to whisk, or fluff up the couscous, then add the onion, butternut squash, apricots, herbs, cinnamon, and lemon zest.


Mix well with your hands trying not to mash the butternut squash. Taste and salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warmish or cold.

(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe in "The Cookbook" ...}

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