Summer Squash Couscous

Let me start by saying that before this recipe, I really couldn’t have cared less about couscous. To my mind, it was something über-healthy people ate in lieu of pasta. And I am neither über-healthy nor willing to replace pasta with healthier whole grains. But friends! This recipe is amazing! Perfect! Probably one of my very favorite food52 recipes. The couscous is cooked in stock, then tossed with quickly sauteed shallots, squash, and pistachios (isn’t that fun? cooked pistachios!), fresh mint, and a lovely lemony vinaigrette.  Many people have commented that this recipe adapts beautifully to variations (using just one kind of squash (and double the amount), almonds instead of pistachios, etc), but I think it’s just perfect the way it is. I think this makes a lovely side for roast salmon, or a chicken marinated in Greek yogurt with Indian spices.  I hope you like it too!

Summer Squash Couscous
by Internet Cooking Princess via food52

  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/4 cup veggie stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sultanas/golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and let them steep for about 30 minutes.
  2. Next, bring the veggie stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the couscous, cover, and turn off the heat; allow the couscous to sit for about 5 minutes, or until it absorbs all the liquid. Toss the couscous with a fork so the grains don’t start clumping together, pour into a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
  3. In a skillet over medium high heat, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then, add the chopped squash and zucchini, shallot, sultanas, pistachios and a pinch or two of salt. Only cook for about a minute or two — you still want the squash and zucchini to be al dente. This just ensures they aren’t too al dente, and all the flavors can marry before they hit the couscous. Set aside until everything reaches room temperature.
  4. Once the veggies have reached room temperature, add them to the bowl with the couscous and combine.
  5. Then, remove and discard the cloves of garlic from the dressing, and toss it with the couscous (add the dressing gradually, as you may not need it all). Fold in the mint, season with additional salt and pepper if necessary and serve at room temperature.
Apropos of nothing, a baby picture for you!

Crispy Latkes and Pink Applesauce

Oh man, oh man.  April is busy.  I would like to sit down and not move for six hours. I really like sitting.

Feast your eyes on our Passover table! We celebrated late, but had an absolutely wonderful Seder.  I was particularly pleased with how my brisket turned out (braised with rhubarb and honey from the All About Braising cookbook).  I’ll share that recipe with you guys later because it’s feeling more and more summery here, and you’re probably not in the mood to braise five pounds of beef for three-and-a-half hours.

What I do want to share are my favorite latke and applesauce recipes. Do you have a food mill? You need one to make pink applesauce.  And don’t you want to make pink applesauce?  It’s oh so pretty.  (Food mills are also totes awesome for making baby food.  You can food mill anything!) Anyway, the pink applesauce is so lovely and pink because you cook the apples in their skins. Then you put the quartered apples into the food mill and zip it through, and the food mill magically keeps all the skins while spewing out the applesauce. Delicious!

Oh, and latkes! I hope you’ve all had them- they are one of life’s great pleasure.  Light and crispy potato and onion pancakes- what’s not to love?  Here’s a picture of some of the 48 (!) I made for Passover:

The key to a really crispy latke is to squeeze the water out of the grated potato and onions really thoroughly.  Oh! Oh! And when you serve them, you have to have little bowls of sour cream along with the applesauce.  It is impossible to eat latkes without both applesauce and sour cream.  Trust me on this one.

Crispy Latkes
from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 large baking potato (1 pound), peeled
  • 1 small onion (4 ounces), peeled 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  1. In a food processor or on a box grater, coarsely shred the potato and onion. For longer strands, lay the potato sideways in the chute of your food processor. Transfer to a colander or wrap in a cheesecloth sling, and squeeze as dry as possible. Let stand for 2 minutes, then squeeze dry again.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, egg, salt and pepper together. Stir in the potato onion mixture until all pieces are evenly coated.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until shimmering. Drop packed teaspoons of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten them with the back of a spoon. Cook the latkes over moderately high heat until the edges are golden, about 1 1/2 minutes; flip and cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.

Do ahead: Latkes are a do-ahead-er’s dream. You can also keep latkes warm in the oven for an hour or more, if you’re waiting for stragglers to arrive. Cooked, they keep well in the fridge for a day or two, or in the freezer, well wrapped, for up to two weeks. Reheat them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven until they’re crisp again. Bonus: If you undercooked them a bit or didn’t get the browning on them you’d hoped for, you can compensate for this in the oven.

Pink Applesauce
from Martha Stewart (of course)

  • 1 1/4 pounds red apples (about 4), such as McIntosh or Macoun, unpeeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Cover, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft, 15 to 30 minutes. Pass apple mixture through a food mill fitted with a medium disk. Applesauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

Carciofi alla Giudia with Fried Lemon

I fear that this dish takes me one step closer to getting a Texas-State-Fair-style reputation as one who fries things that aren’t meant to be fried. But, dear reader, this is so. good.  And it’s really an adaptation of a classic Jewish-Italian recipe, so it’s legit.  Here artichokes are trimmed and quartered and then dropped, sans batter, into hot oil.  The result is a real testament to the power of frying.  The stem and heart of the artichoke become golden and tender, while those delicious leaves take on a crispy, potato chip-like quality that cannot be beat. This must, must be served with a slice or two of fried lemon, which is really just one of the most beautiful things in the world.  A crispy, intensely-lemony delight.  I served this on a chickpea puree featuring gremolata flavors, but if you’re in a hurry you could definitely skip this step and just serve these on a plate with a smear of Greek yogurt. 

Carciofi alla Giudia with Fried Lemon

For the Artichokes

  • 2 large artichokes
  • 2 lemons, meyer if available
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
  • chickpea puree (recipe follows) or greek yogurt
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Make the chickpea puree (recipe follows).
  2. Cut one of the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl of water. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the artichokes. With your hands, peel off the tough outer leaves of the artichoke. keep peeling until you start to see pale green tops on the remaining leaves. use your knife to cut off the top third of the artichoke (not the stem end). Use your knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layer of the stem, and trim off any rough areas around the base of the stem. Cut the artichokes in quarters and remove and discard the feathery choke. Put the prepared artichokes into the bowl of acidulated water.
  4. Heat the oil (it should be about 1 inch deep) in a large pot over medium heat, until shimmery but not smoking. (you can put the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil- if bubbles form around the base, your oil is hot enough).
  5. Dry your first 4 artichoke quarters as best you can with a kitchen towel and ease them quickly into the oil. Be careful! Remaining water may cause the oil to splatter. Let the oil settle down a minute before you attempt to poke and prod the artichokes. Then fry, turning occasionally until the artichokes are golden and tender. Remove from the oil and drain upside down on paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt while the artichokes are still glistening with oil. Repeat this step with the remaining artichokes.
  6. Slice the remaining lemon into very thin slices, and remove any seeds that cling to the slices. Pat the slices dry with paper towels and then drop them into the hot oil. Fry, turning occasionally, until the insides of the lemons are golden brown and the outsides are bright yellow. Drain on paper towels.
  7. To serve, spoon some of the chickpea puree (or a smear of greek yogurt) onto a plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with two artichoke quarters and a slice or two of fried lemon. Enjoy!

For the Chickpea Puree

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • zest and juice of two lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/3 cup water
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Put all ingredients except parsley into a food processor and process until smooth. Toss in the chopped parsley and pulse a few times to incorporate.