Butternut-Squash Couscous

Food & Wine
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.
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Ingredients

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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

Preparation

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

Wine Recommendation: 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.

Created date

June 2004