Couscous and balsamic strawberries
Curiosity can lead to tricky ways – and in the kitchen this always works. I have several recipe books which are bought more regarding the beauty of the photos and their layout than the certainty they will be ever used. My view desires the beauty of the dishes presented in the publication. But sometimes, when I am at home, I flick one of them and a certain recipe attracts me and I start wondering the possibility of… I check the ingredients, I figure out the method of preparation and there is nothing which could persuade me not to make it.
Last week I was seduced by a couscous recipe with onion confit and walnuts. I was there, sitting down on the rug with opened book showing this inviting picture. And I saw myself in France. While I lived there it was couscous everywhere. Ready couscous being sold at the supermarket with all kinds of ingredient combinations in the Moroccan restaurant menus and couscous prepared by Tunisian friends in parties full of foreigners and laughter which cheered our tiny messy flats. But I myself realized that I had never prepared couscous. I found that it was a good time for trying it.
It was a good choice. The recipe is easy and the result is superb. As an accompaniment I decided to go for a very simple salad consisting of chicken, bread and tomatoes. There is nothing more tempting than the strawberry acidity combined with the sugary crunchiness of meringue.
Try these recipes. Set up the table, light the candles and open the door for your friends. You will have an unforgettable dinner!
Couscous with walnuts and onion
5 small and rounded onions sliced in rings
Chopped leaves of some thyme
25g of refined or crystal sugar
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
200g of Moroccan couscous
1/2 teaspoon of salt
400 ml of boiling chicken or vegetable stock
25g of unsalted butter
100g of walnuts (or pecan or Brazilian nuts)
2 spoons of walnut or olive oil
Sea salt and freshly grated black pepper
Sprigs of thyme for decoration
Warm a little of olive oil in a frying pan. Add onions, thyme, sea salt and pepper and braise them in medium-heat for some minutes until the onion gets softer and brown. Add sugar, then balsamic vinegar and stir well. Let it caramelize in low-heat occasionally stirring while you keep going with the recipe.
Put the couscous and refined salt in a big bowl. Pour the boiling stock on it and mix them well. Cover it with a cling film and leave it aside in a warm place for approximately 15 minutes.
Melt the butter on another frying pan in medium-heat up to get it foamy. Add the nuts and a generous pinch of sea salt and fry them for some minutes until it gets brown. Turn the pan in order not to burn. Drain it on paper towel.
When the onions start to get caramelized and all liquid evaporates, remove the pan from the fire. Uncover the bowl with couscous and fluff it with a fork to separate the grains. Add the onions, nuts and the walnut (or olive) oil and the sprigs of thyme and mix it with a spoon. Spice it harmonically and serve it.
Balsamic strawberries with meringue
1 tray of organic strawberries (about 400g)
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar*
Small pieces of crushed meringue
Some leaves of fresh basil in thin slices
Wash the strawberries, remove the green part, cut into four pieces and put them in a big bowl. Mix oil with vinegar in a bowl and dump them on the strawberries until they get covered. Spread the strawberries on a dish and place the meringue in pieces among them. If you prefer, serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Decorate it with basil and put the dressing remained on the edge of the dish. Serve immediately.
*If you don`t have aged balsamic vinegar, you can boil 60 ml of an ordinary balsamic vinegar up to get its volume reduced to half. Wait it to cool down before using.