Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summery Couscous

I just discovered how much it costs to run my fans. Unbelievable!! I have no idea how much worse it could be if I had air conditioning. I don't want to know - it's heart-stopping enough with just fans running, doing a semi-adequate job of keeping this place cool. My kitchen is running on half time. I'm running on half time. They say it will be cooler this weekend. I can't wait.

Going to the movies in the middle of the day is an ideal way to beat the heat. Have any of you seen Julie and Julia? It's lovely. I've always adored Meryl Streep, and she's perfect in this role. For those of you who already have cookbooks published, you can probably relate to it even more. I think, though, it might have taken her longer than anyone writing today, if for no other reason than the fact that she used a typewriter. A typewriter! I remember those days, people. If you don't remember them, then you can't imagine how fantastic these computers are. They are a godsend - trust me.

I have lovely heirloom tomatoes growing. I think they're called plum tomatoes. I got them at the farmer's market, lured by their rich purpley color. I dried the seeds from one and planted them. Now I have 3 tall plants with green fruit hanging on them. When they ripen, I will have to find something special to do with them. But meanwhile, I picked a bunch of my little cherry tomatoes to feature in the couscous I served at the last dinner party. This was the star of the show for the vegan, but I must say that those of us who are omnivores also loved it. It's quite simple, really, and worth turning your oven on for - especially if you plan on having dinner outdoors.

For tomatoes:
  • a large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 12 whole fresh oregano leaves plus 3 tablespoons finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler and finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 250°F.

Toss tomatoes with sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and arrange, cut sides down, in a small shallow baking pan. Heat oil in a 9- to 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in basil and whole oregano leaves, then pour oil over tomatoes. Roast tomatoes until very tender but not falling apart, 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer tomatoes with a spatula to a large plate, then pour oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl or measuring cup, discarding solids. Stir in chopped oregano, zest, juice, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Cook Couscous

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast couscous, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth, water, and salt and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes, then stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon oregano oil. Season with salt.

And then, because I wanted a more complete protein in this dish, I opened a can of garbanzo beans, drained them, and added them to the couscous before stirring in any of the oil. I topped this dish with the tomatoes and voila! A side dish for the rest of us, a satisfying dish for the vegan.

For health news, you can visit Mission Valley Acupuncture.


Cynthia said...

It has been unbearably hot in these parts too. I have to run a fan all day and all night. :(

Karine said...

I love this salad! cherry tomatoes are just so great :)

Unknown said...

Cynthia - I sympathize with you, my friend. I just turned my fans off this morning after running them nonstop for the last month!

Karine - Thanks for stopping by! Yes, cherry tomatoes right off my vines are fabulous. The last batch of tomatoes for this season will be my heirloom plum tomatoes.

Thistlemoon said...

I just saw Julie and Julia this weekend. It was so much fun. I agree Meryl Streep as awesome, and I know what you mean about typewriters! Although I am of the computer era, I boycotted them for as long as I could, technophobe that I am! LOL!

anya said...

Toni, are you saying it's dead hot where you are?? Is it still so? Across the pond, I watch the autumn's arrival all right...the light -- everything -- is changing...

Unknown said...

Jenn - It took me years and years to finally get a website for my business. I thought it was weird to have a website for a medicine which is thousands of years old!

Anya - Yes, it has been hot, hot, hot. Today is a few degrees cooler than it's been. The biggest difference is that the days are becoming shorter.