Today I get to introduce you to someone I doubt you’ve met before. She’s Bridget Sandorford and she’s a freelance food writer for culinaryschools.org. If you’re a food lover and you’re looking for professional training, I think you’ll find it on that site.
I met Bridget online and she seemed so nice that I said, “If you’ll write a family recipe for me including photos I’ll add a guest post from you” and she agreed. At this time of year I think a “hands-off” meal is a good thing to have, especially when it looks this good. Here’s Bridget’s post:
There was once upon a time that I enjoyed cooking so much that I explored and made new, exciting, healthy recipes for every meal. Every. Damn. Meal. And then my parents made me get a job. (I suppose I can’t blame them.)
I miss good food but with a busy job I don’t have time to cook without a good bit of planning. Most days I’m so frazzled between my multiple jobs that I can’t fathom planning a week’s worth of recipes. That’s why I love my slow cooker. Contrary to many peoples’ experience with slowcookers, every meal that comes out of it doesn’t have to be the same-flavored mush. This is one of those recipes that stand out in hands-off cooking. Not hands-off like it’s only easy. I mean that too, but I literally mean, “HANDS OFF THAT IS MINE.”
We make a lot of curry in our house. – a whole lot. We love traveling and pretending that we travel more than we actually do so cooking ethnic recipes helps us maintain that blissful illusion. I therefore insist on arming my kitchen with a mason jar full of mixed spices I grind up myself in the coffee grinder. The usual suspects are cumin, coriander, paprika, ginger, garam masala, and salt. (Garam masala is often made of black and white pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom, although there are endless varieties of ingredients.) It’s a handy jar to have, especially for this recipe because it cuts measuring time.
Now, if you want legit couscous—fluffy rather than sticky—you’ll have to do it on the stovetop according to directions on the package. You can still cook the onions, chickpeas, and vegetables in the spices for some excellent flavor while adding the couscous later, but this morning, I didn’t have time for that today!
Here’s why I love this recipe so much: you literally chop, measure, and toss everything into the crockpot at the same time, stir it around a good bit, cover, and walk away for a few hours. That isn’t to say a certain degree of planning doesn’t come into play. If you use raw chickpeas like I did, for example, you’ll have to soak them overnight in plenty of water and an optional dash of apple cider vinegar. These babies take the longest to cook, so it’s best to be sure they’re plenty soft before they go into the cooker (hence the vinegar).
Moreover, I took the easy route and avoided putting in any root vegetables. This makes for a less nutritious meal, but sometimes, a girl’s gotta pay the bills. If you do use vegetables, I advise cooking them with some broth with the chickpeas before tossing in the couscous and more broth.
Me? I’m just happy to have something substantial to remedy the shakes from my Moroccan coffee which is also tasty. Which you should probably make, too.
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat couscous
- 1 ½ cups pre-soaked chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
- ½ cup currants, raisins, or chopped apricots
- ⅛ cup honey (thoroughly mixed with broth)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp chopped mint
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped green onions
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
- 1¼ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp ground paprika
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- Optional: up to 3 root vegetables like turnips, potatoes, squash, carrots, or leeks
- ½ cup whole coffee or espresso beans
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- Optional: ¼ tsp each of ground ginger and black pepper
- Optional: if you’re feeling particularly luxurious, throw a few saffron threads in there.
- If using dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soak overnight in water with a dash of white vinegar and precook any root vegetables.
- Chop, measure, and toss everything into the crockpot at the same time, stir it around a good bit, cover, and walk away for a few hours.
- Grind up the ingredients in a coffee grinder and brew as usual
- Serve with a little milk and a spoonful of maple syrup.
If you’re interested in professional culianary training, check out culinaryschools.org and tell them Bridget sent you.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I love couscous, the flavors in this variation sound wonderful!
I don’t enjoy plain couscous I have to admit. Add some stock, some fruit, etc and I’m a happy camper.
Hotly Spiced says
With all the spices in this couscous it must be so full of flavour. I love Middle Eastern cuisine xx
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
I never knew you could cook couscous in the slow cooker. I absolutely love mine and couldn’t get through winter without it but looks like it might be coming out in summer too! I guess the added bonus is not standing over the hot stove or turning on the oven.
A slow cooker on a hot day is far better than a hot oven!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
It looks like a long list of ingredients but I think I have them all in the pantry so it’s very doable 🙂
Once the spices are mixed it’s not a tough recipe. I love Moroccan food.
rhubarb whine says
Yep – bookmarked. Anything that looks like I could slow cook it has my vote.
I know what you mean!
Choc Chip Uru says
What an incredible dish Bridget absolutely love it 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
I’m so glad I always have all of these spices on hand cause I want this couscous NOW! A flavor explosion!!
I love a meal that cooks itself! And, these flavors sound lovely. I’ve never had Moroccan coffee with saffron. I need to try this!
CJ at Food Stories says
I love couscous but haven’t had it for ages … got to change that 🙂
We made couscous in Morocco when we were there last year, it’s actually quite laborious. I love the crock pot recipes for many reasons but the biggest reason is that the house smells so good when you come home!
How cool! My sister went to Morocco with her wealthy son last year and they stayed in a huge estate with servants and a private chef and she said one of the highlights was watching him cook. She said she didn’t think the chef thought too much about an over the shoulder guest but he couldn’t complain. I agree about crock pot cooking. I work from home and sometimes it’s torture. 🙂
Delicious and pretty. Can’t beat that combo. A winner.
Glamorous Glutton says
It had never occurred to me to cook cous cous this way, really clever and with all those spices really tasty. GG
Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen says
Now that’s just the best crock-pot recipe I’ve seen in a long while! And Moroccan coffee as well.. this is just outstanding!! I’ve just been reading about how important different spices are for our health! xx
Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb says
haha travel illusions. That’s why I like to collect certain spices and ingredients so that when I feel like being transported to Africa on a boring Sunday night, I can actually make a dish, such as your gorgeous fluffy Couscous.
By the way its nice to meet you Bridget!
Love all the delicious spices in this dish!
Now that IS an interesting way to cook couscous! 🙂
Couscous only takes a minute or two to soak so I’m not sure why a slow cooker would be needed but it sure looks good.
I love my slow cooker – especially in the summer, but do find that some things end up tasting the same and that’s always disappointing. I’ve cooked Moroccan dishes in it and found all the lovely aromatics just disappeared. Your recipe has such a lot in it, though, maybe they won’t all cook away.
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
I’m still new to Mediterranean food but I do love couscous and this looks delicious!
I like couscous too and LOVE Mediterranean food
Oh how we love couscous and bold spice and you’ve combined the two. This is going on my menu next week.