If you feel a case of scurvy coming on simply from looking at food so brown, I hear you.
Normally the absence of representation from at least four letters of ROY G. BIV's seven would work me into a lather; but, as it so happens, this unassuming, homogenous hodgepodge packs a punch nutritious enough to get you through the remainder of this winter without your teeth falling out or your eyes sinking into your skull.
Serve it with triangles of warm whole wheat pita plus a spoonful of labneh or a wedge of baked feta and rainbows will abound.
Roasted winter vegetables with spiced Israeli couscous
- 1 small winter squash (acorn, butternut, or kabocha), peeled and cubed
- lots of olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar
- chef's measure of salt and freshly-ground pepper, divided
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 2 shallots, sliced into thin rings
- 1-1/4 cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
- 1 tsp. sumac
- 1/2 tsp. aleppo pepper
- 1/4 cup sultana raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
On a baking sheet, toss the squash with a glug of olive oil, the molasses or vinegar, and plenty of salt and pepper. Roast, brandishing a spatula at least once, until tender and enviably browned, 25 to 45 minutes (depending on the squash variety).
With a similar temp and curfew as the squash, the cauliflower can be tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread onto another baking sheet to share the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes.
While the vegetables roast, crisp the shallots. Add 1/4 cup or so of olive oil to a medium skillet set over medium heat. When the oil becomes a mirage of warmer days, add the shallots, taking the time to separate the rings by hand as you drop them in. Let them sizzle undisturbed for a few minutes (the least you can do) before removing them--mahogany and crispy--with a slotted spoon. Set them on a paper towel and solicitously season them with salt.
Cook the couscous: In a small saucepan, bring 1-3/4 cups of sea-salty water to a low boil. Meanwhile, toast the couscous in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat until it's fragrant and tanned. When adding the boiling water, pull the couscous off the heat to avoid a geyser, pour in the water, and then return the pot to a low flame. Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until the water has absorbed and the grains have swelled. Add the sumac, aleppo pepper, and raisins to the top of the couscous and replace the lid, letting the pot sit on the back burner long enough for the spices to bloom and the raisins to plump. Stir before serving, testing for any missing seasoning.
In a large serving bowl, combine the squash, cauliflower, and couscous. Strew with the toasted pine nuts and crispy shallots and embrace the brown.