Carrots, fennel, zucchini, and chickpeas in a broth spicy with jalapeños, caraway, and coriander make for a full-flavored vegetarian couscous. If you want to introduce meat, sautéed merguez the hot North African sausages are a great way to go.
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 large onion, cut into thin slices
4 carrots, cut into thin slices
1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 eggplant (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, including seeds and ribs, cut diagonally into thin slices
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
5 1/2 cups water
1 2/3 cups drained and rinsed chickpeas (one 15-ounce can)
1 1/3 cups couscous
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion, carrots, fennel, eggplant, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook, covered, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, coriander, caraway seeds, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add 3 1/2 cups of the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer 2 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the couscous. Cover. Remove the pot from the heat and let the couscous stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve the stew with its broth over the couscous.
Wine Recommendation: California chardonnays (and those from Washington State or Oregon) are earthy, rich, and slightly exotic just like this dish. As you sip a chilled glass, the wine will also provide a cooling edge to the spice and heat of the food.