Sunday, December 4, 2016

Nuts and Persimmon Couscous

There are many recipes for couscous dishes in the Mediterranean cuisine. Some are savory, with vegetables, and some are sweet, with nuts, fruits, or raisins. Today, here is my version of a traditional nut couscous dish. It is spicy but also almost sweet. It can be served with grilled meats, vegetables, or as a dish on its own. I like it on its own the most, because it is very pure and this way you can taste better its rich ingredients: the butter and the saffron, and better appreciate the flavor of the nuts in the couscous.

This type of couscous is also made with dried fruits, besides nuts. But instead of dried fruits I decided to use fresh persimmons, which are now in season. Because persimmons can be very sweet at the peak of the season, to contrast their sweetness, I added preserved lemons to the salad. Here it is a very simple yet flavorful dish.

Nuts and Persimmon Couscous

1 cup couscous,
1 cup hot water,
1/4 tsp salt,
1/2 cup blanched almonds,
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios,
4 dried seedless dates chopped (optional, if persimmons are very sweet),
a pinch of saffron threads,
1/4 tsp ground cumin,
1/4 tsp cinnamon,
1/4 tsp ground cloves,
1/4 tsp ground coriander seeds,
a pinch of cayenne pepper,
1 persimmon, peeled,
4 slices of preserved lemons, cut into small cubes,
2 tbsp olive oil,
2 tbsp butter,
fresh mint to garnish.

1. In a small pot bring to boil water with olive oil and salt. Take off the heat, add couscous, mix, cover, and set aside for about 10 minutes.
2. Heat the butter in a medium-sized frying pot. Add saffron and nuts and fry stirring until the nuts are brown.
3. Add dried spices to the nuts and cook for about a minute. Toss in the couscous and heat everything together for two minutes.
4. Cut persimmon into quarters and then in halves, and mix with the couscous.
5. Add preserved lemon cubes and mix everything together. Garnish with chopped mint.

Serve warm or room temperature.