Last night I had Autumn and Tania over for an impromptu dinner to celebrate Tania booking a national Halloween Wal-mart commercial! Everyone watch for her! I thought we would start off with tomato confit and burrata cheese, well that went south when I forgot about the tomatoes in the oven for a couple hours and they turned into sun-dried tomatoes. . . I guess you can't win them all. : ) Autumn went to the farmers market earlier in the day so she brought over all the vegetables she picked up. After looking it over, I decided on a vegetable couscous dish. Any kind of rice or pasta dish is so easy to alter. Just keep the base and technic and replace the vegetables with whatever is in season. And Tania is making her famous poached fruit, which she was nice enough to let me share with you! (Thank you Tania!)
Here is what Autumn picked up at the farmers market:
and the brand of couscous I used is Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend. Trader Joe's makes this great grain blend with Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans and Red Quinoa. If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, don't stress! You can use any kind of grain in this dish. FYI vegetarians: quinoa has a HUGE amount of protein in it so don't think you have to add more. It is equivalent to eating chicken. And quinoa is really tasty if you have never tried it. It works kinda like rice or couscous. Makes a great side dish and you can put it in salad, anything really. Ok, enough, here is how I made it!
What you'll need:
1 1/4 cup or 1/2 package of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend, prepare as package instructs (when it has an option of cooking in vegetable broth or water, I always go with the broth, it adds so much more flavor.)
2 small Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium purple onion, diced
3 medium Portabella Mushrooms, cubed
4 Garlic cloves, minced
3 tomatoes, cubed and de-seeded
A handful of Basil, chopped
A handful of Parsley, chopped
A handful of Pine Nuts
A pad of Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
What you'll do:
For a dish like this, I like to use Rachel Ray's idea of the "Chop and Drop" In a large pan on medium low heat, drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a pad of butter. After the butter melts, add the sweet potatoes. And like I said chop, then drop. Next will come the onions, then garlic. At this point give the sweet potatoes a minute of cooking to soften up. At this point, make your couscous. Add the mushrooms to the sweet potatoes. When the sweet potatoes become fork tender, turn the burner off and let sit till the couscous is done. When it is done, dump the whole pot into the vegetable mixture pan. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and pine nuts. Put on low heat and mix well. If the mix is a little dry, add a little vegetable broth or water. Season with salt and pepper and Enjoy! You could add diced cooked chicken to this dish or serve it next to a grilled chicken breast for the meat eaters. : )
I love this because it's so colorful and fast! Takes about 15 minutes to put together.
Up next is Tania's recipe for poached peaches! Now the recipe calls for Passion Fruit Syrup, but it was unavailable, so we simply skipped it. (don't be afraid to change recipes!!)
Poached Fruit in Passion Fruit Syrup
500 ml passion fruit pulp (optional, as we found out last night)
1 cup caster sugar (caster sugar is simply super fine sugar, if you don't have it you can just use regular white sugar)
250 ml dessert wine (any will work, we are partial to Manischewitz wine, but you could use anything)
250 ml water
3 peaches, halved and stones removed
3 nectarines, halved and stones removed
Vanilla Ice Cream or Yogurt
Place the passion fruit pulp, sugar, wine and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the peaches and nectarines. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the fruit is just tender. Serve over ice cream or yogurt.
Well, I hope you are all enjoying my blog! Please let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like a recipe for something. I'm here to help!