This is a variation on the classic “couscous au sept légumes” that I experienced frequently on my travels in Morocco. Grilling the vegetables gives a smoky dimension to the dish, which contrasts with the traditional steaming process that tends to make the vegetables bland in flavor. Couscous is not only the name of the dish but also the main ingredient, which is actually granular semolina. In North Africa, couscous is nothing if not versatile: it is cooked in milk and served as a porridge, and mixed with fruit and sweetened for a dessert.
For the Vegetables
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick “planks”
1 small yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick “planks”
1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 portobello mushroom, stem removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
For the Couscous
2 cups couscous
4 cups Vegetable Stock
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 limes, zested and juiced
6 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
Prepare the grill.
In a large mixing bowl, place the zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onion, and portobello and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In another mixing bowl, combine the oregano, parsley, chives, vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk to combine, pour over the vegetables, and toss to coat well. Place the vegetables on the grill or under a broiler and cook until tender, turning every couple of minutes, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the cooked vegetables from the grill, let cool, and reserve. When cool, chop the vegetables.
Meanwhile, place the couscous in a 2-quart mixing bowl. Place the stock in a saucepan, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Pour over the couscous, stir in the butter, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the couscous stand for 10 minutes.
When the couscous is ready, fluff it with a fork, making sure there are no lumps. Add the tomatoes, basil, cilantro, lime juice and zest, pine nuts, and cheese and season with salt. Mound the couscous on a platter. Pour the chopped vegetables on top and serve.
Serves 6 to 8