Blame me not, oh dear readers, for the recent proliferation of food-related posts! Blame instead the untimely demise of the only lens for my camera which was capable of fitting all six feet two inches of me-in-heels within one frame when one is limited to a tripod, a remote, and an 8x10 foot room. Also the fact that summer salads REALLY EXCITE ME, and that recent investments in things like “furniture that is actually not from Ikea or Target” have left me “trying to save money by cooking at home as much as possible.”
With this, though, comes exciting new discoveries. Such as: PARSLEY IS OKAY. That dreaded, useless garnish always shoved awkwardly through a lemon or an undercooked disc of half-steamed carrot? Turns out this shit is pretty tasty. Considering its relation to cilantro, which I could probably just eat fistfuls of alone/would put in everything if I could, it’s a surprise I always turned my nose up at its relegated-to-wilting-garnish-for-poultry cousin. But apparently, when you chop it and mix it with some other things which dilute that acrid parsleyness, it’s actually really, really good.
A few weeks ago I had this delicious spring-pea-and-ramps-and-parsley truffled risotto at my fancy birthday dinner (!) at Le Barricou, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Complications: I’ve no desire to invest the time and heat required for risotto in this weather; I don’t really want to drown everything in cheese and cream; I don’t have truffle anything. Things I do like and which are at my disposal: mushrooms, milder cheese like swiss used as a garnish, peas, some other green vegetables, things similar to ramps which are not ramps such as garlic and a huge bunch of chives I bought last week, a huge bunch of parsley, grains other than arborio rice which do not require risotto-ing. SO: couscous with peas, parsley, and cremini mushrooms!
SO. I cooked a bunch of finely chopped sweet onions and garlic (use plenty of ramps or even shallots instead, if you have them) in a big cast iron pan/dutch oven over medium heat for a bit, until the onions were clear-ish and soft. I added thinly sliced cremini mushrooms, and a little later dumped in a bit of chopped spinach and plenty of peas (frozen’s fine.) I cooked those a bit, seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper, and then added a cup of finely chopped parsley and a lot of chopped chives. Add 3 cups of water (or broth if you’re fancy), bring to a slight boil, dump in 1.5 cups couscous, turn off heat, stir, then cover for 5 minutes. (Minimal time standing over stove! Burner is on for 15 minutes max!) Uncover, fluff, dump in a can of beans for added protein, add olive oil and a tiny bit of lemon juice and a little more parsley, and voila! I grated some baby swiss cheese over the top of it for extra flavor without making it too heavy. It was awesome hot, and even better cold and over some lettuce and cucumbers for lunch today.
If you can tolerate asparagus (BLECHGHCK), that would probably be great in this too, or haricots verts. If you eat meat, I bet this would be a stellar side dish or base for scallops, a white fish, or even just chicken.