August 7, 2007

Mixed mushroom couscous

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Here's a little break from all the protein I've been featuring from my last trip. This is a recipe that was inspired by BBC's Good Food 101 Veggie Dishes. I needed something new for my office baon (packed lunch), a change from my usual. I was growing a bit tired of grilled chicken (served with our ever-growing collection of condiments in the office), my usual salad brought from home, or any one of our usual take-outs : laing, tawilis or sushi from Conrad's, dimsum, pizza, or KFC. I need baon ideas, people, please take pity on this poor working girl! :)

I saw a recipe with couscous and thought that was just the thing I wanted. I still had half a pack of couscous in my pantry from a recent lamb tajine I made so I used that. I wanted something light, so I turned to my trusty little book of veggie dishes like I always do when I'm feeling "healthy". I settled for this recipe which originally calls for halloumi cheese. Unfortunately I no longer had any of that in my fridge so I made it anyway without the halloumi.

This is an incredibly quick and no-fuss dish. Something you can whip up in the morning while getting ready for work. It's that easy. When lunchtime came around, I had it with a half order of steaming mechado (Filipino beef stew) from the cafeteria and that hit the spot beautifully.

I really love the texture of couscous, I like how the grains feel when mixed with other firmer ingredients. It is also a great vehicle for absorbing and carrying whatever flavors you lay on it. You can have this as a side or as your main meal.

Mixed mushroom couscous
serves 2

3/4 cup couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 green or red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150 g mixed mushrooms, for this one I used shitake, button and oyster mushrooms
basil and parsley - finely chopped
olive oil
fleur de sel

Pour couscous into the bowl of boiling water and cover with cling film. In the meantime, roast the bell pepper on your stove top then seed and chop when done.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the garlic for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and saute until lightly golden. Set aside.

Stir in the chopped bell pepper and herbs with the couscous and season. Spoon onto plates and top with the pan-fried halloumi (if available) and mushrooms. Garnish with the extra herbs and serve.

22 comments:

wysgal said...

Great photo! Those food styling classes must be paying off ... =)

joey said...

Hi Nens! I agree with Wysgal...those classes are showing! That is a gorgeous shot :) Can you share some tips?

There is a brown rice and asparagus recipe on 101 Cookbooks that I love (even if I've never made it in it's entirety)! I can look for the link if you want...but I think I told you about it already? Gosh...my memory is going...

Socky said...

Yeah, great photo with none of the usual "foodstyling tricks" like glycerine. I see it's lit from behind too - but with natural light.
The dish looks yummy! But really, Christine, you always took great pics!

Julie said...

I need ideas for my take-to-work lunches also so this is great. And I agree with everyone else -- great photo!

Ferdz said...

That is well shot! I have a weakness with mushroom dishes kaya pag naghahanap ako ng kakainan tinitignan ko kung me mushrooms. Kahit sa KFC di nawawawala yung mushroom soup. Hahaha

Should try this recipe one of these days.

Katrina said...

Isn't couscous fun to eat? :-) And with mushrooms and veggies, it's a meal in itself!

The Knittymommy said...

Wow! Two posts on couscous in one day. One from you and the other from Joey. I've really been wanting to try making this. As well as a lamb stew. My lips are smacking...

christine said...

Wysgal, Jo and Socky, thank you! :) That compliment about the photo is even more flattering because I took this shot about two weeks before I took the food styling class. It just got pushed to the back burner because of my Cagayan trip and posts. :) So thanks again!

Jo, yes, you told me about it and I saw it after. It sounds like something I'd definitely like to try. :)

Socky, the lighting-from-behind is a trick I learned from Jo Avila over a casual lunch. We were discussing food photography casually and he explained that if you position your plate so the light comes from anywhere BUT in front (or behind the photographer) you would capture more of the texture of the food, because the shadows fall in front - and shadows are what show texture. Great tip huh? :) Something he also told me I should avoid doing was taking from above because it would just make the food look flat. That's something I may have already subconsciouly known.

christine said...

Hi Julie! :) Thanks! I am in constant search for take-to-work lunch ideas. My problem though is that I never have time to prepare the night before because I always come home late and tired, and I'm always rushing in the morning. I really need to get up earlier.

Hey Ferdz, me too! I have a weakness for mushrooms as well. Hmm I don't think I've ever tried KFC's mushroom soup. Matikman nga. Thanks for the tip. :)

Katrina, it's really a meal in itself. And couscous goes so well with so many dishes (especially tajines or any lamb really - my favorite pairing). And as a bonus, it's way easier and quicker to prepare than rice. :)

KM, I know! I just came from Joey's site. Another one of our fun food-blogging coincidences. I love it. :)

shalimar said...

easy isnt it? i love couscous i sneaked out from work today and had lunch with a friend here in Antibes
i had couscous and lamb... baon aba this is what i do for my sis lunch box inlondon... sometimes i add just courgettes and carrots

nina said...

I agree with what everybody said Christine. Great pictures!

I don't do baon (since I work from home hehe), but a friend of mine makes bentos. Some of her recipes are for 1-2 servings :) here's the link: kitchencow.com

Marvin said...

This looks easy enough to make. And it probably would be versatile enough to serve with almost anything.

Belinda said...

Those mushrooms look so fresh and appetizing! What a wonderful photo, Christine. And what a wonderful sounding recipe...now I have to add couscous to my grocery list. :-)

christine said...

Gosh, the Antibes...Shalimar, you're always in the most beautiful places. :) Courgettes in couscous sounds great, I'll give that a try.

Thanks, Nina! And thanks so much for the link. I've just spent half an hour browsing through it and I already have so many ideas from her. :)

Marvin, it couldn't be easier! Have it with veggies or lamb or chicken or beans, and it'll be equally satisfying. :)

Thanks Belinda! I'll be looking out for your future post on couscous. :)

ginny said...

Hi sis,

I also have extra couscous from the last lamb tangine i made and lots of diff mushrooms so am definitely trying this. Your photo is vibrant! Pretty please, can you give me lessons/tips...just got a cam like yours Nikon D40X...am so excited!

M.Tan said...

Nena, there are a couple of websites that focus on baon/bento. I can email them to you if you don't already check them out. Good tips, but yes, you will need to prep some stuff ahead of time.

In case you're interested in something a bit different but easy to make (and baon-able), try making a spicy corn salad (it keeps for a few days so long as it's refrigerated) to go with any meat. I recently tried a recipe of broiled ham steaks (it also is good the day after) with a simple glaze.

Good thing about couscous is how easy it is to cook. Hot water and voila! If you have some leftover, just throw in any gulay you have in the crisper and you have a great salad.

christine said...

Gins, I think I'm more excited than you about the camera! If I had kids like yours, well I can just imagine how crazy I would be taking their photos. I'll teach you what I know. Exciting! :)

Hi Mila! Yes,that's one of my favorite things about couscous. Couscous and tortillas (for fajitas) were some of my best buds when I was in London. :) Please send me those sites, I've seen a couple of bento blogs but yours may be different ones. I love the idea of the corn salad, thanks! :)

Jen Tan said...

Hey Christine!!! This recipe looks great.I really want to try making a couscous dish at home, I'll give this one a shot very soon =)

christine said...

Hey Jen, I hope you like it! Was nice seeing you the other day. :)

Jen Tan said...

It was really nice seeing you too Christine! Till the next food event! =)

Be@rbrick Lover: said...

I loooove couscous! You and Joey are getting to be very good at food styling and photography! Keep up the good work, Christine!

christine said...

See you soon, Jen! :)

Thanks Be@rbrick lover! :) A big compliment coming from you, I'm flattered.