May 13, 2013

Use Your (coarsely ground) Noodle {Couscous with Tomato and Onion}

It's time to "Use Your Noodle" with I Heart Cooking Clubs.  This week we're cooking pasta recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi.

It seems I chose a controversial dish for this round.  Packages of couscous often read: "Moroccan style pasta."  However, New York Times columnist and cookbook author Martha Rose Shulman may be offended by someone referring to couscous as pasta.

Just search "is couscous pasta?" and you can read through some of the controversy for yourself.  One point that Shulman makes is that unlike pasta, couscous is steamed rather than boiled.

Ottolenghi's Couscous with Tomato and Onion was too good to save for another week.  I might offend some people out there, but for this week I'm calling couscous "pasta."

There's a rich, velvety, intensely tomatoey sauce involved.  What goes better with that than pasta?

I loved this dish.  I would have liked to get the crust more, well, crusty.  But the couscous started to stick to my pan (which is on its way out) and I didn't want to push things.  Even if the crust wasn't crusty enough, it was buttery.  Hints of browned butter.  Don't have to say more than that, do I?

Overall this came together easily.  The trickiest part was flipping onto a plate...keep in mind that the middle of mine was sticking to the pan.

The Husband liked it.  The Boy did not.  He usually likes couscous of any kind.  He's been sick with allergy problems lately.  Maybe that was it.  All I got was that it "tasted funny."

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Couscous with Tomato and Onion
from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
½ tsp sugar
about 1 lb very ripe tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
about 5 oz couscous
Scant cup boiling chicken or vegetable stock
3 Tbsp unsalted butter

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a non-stick pan about 22cm in diameter.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring often.  Soften the onion, but do not brown.  Stir in the tomato purée and sugar.  Cook for 1 minute   Add the tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper, and continue cooking for three minutes.

While your tomato sauce cooks, place the couscous in a bowl and add the boiling stock.  Cover the bowl and let the couscous steam for about 10 minutes.  Fluff the couscous, then stir in the tomato sauce.

Wipe out the pan you used for the tomato sauce.  Add the rest of the olive oil and the butter.  Heat over medium.  Once the butter is melted, press the couscous mixture into the pan.  Cover, reduce heat to as low as possible, cover, and cook for about 12 minutes.  Carefully check along the edges of the couscous for browning.   The underside of the couscous mixture should be golden and crisp.

Place a large plate on top of the pan and invert. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. I looked up pasta on wiki last night (I needed inspiration for my post) and it said couscous was defined as pasta, so I'd have to say you're in the clear!

    I'm so glad you gave this a good review because I really want to make it. I'm a big fan of couscous and this looks like a really fun way to prepare it. Yours looks way more appetizing than it does in the book. I'm impressed that you were able to keep it in one piece with your pan on it's way out and all. It looks terrific!

  2. This sounds super. Tomato has a way of making magic. Hubby can't eat orzo but I am thinking, I could make the sauce with rice and see if I can duplicate this.

    It is a Jewish holiday, starting tonight and I am cooking up a storm. I doubt, I will be able to link up, this week but came over to say, "hi."

  3. I agree .... couscous is pasta - this dish reminds me of pot-browned noodles, that Asian noodle base for meat and veg stir fries. I will definitely try this - perhaps with lamb kabobs!

    Excellent contribution to this week's fare! Yum!

  4. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks to you and Kim, now I know that couscous is in the pasta family!
    I really got to broaden my use of couscous, I've only ever made it once!
    Glad that this is a winner for you!

  5. I am in the couscous is pasta camp too! ;-) (Sorry Martha Rose!) This looks so wonderful--I love the pretty color and the presentation on the plate.

  6. Pasta or not I love the sound of this dish...another one for the must make list :)


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