Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Couscous for the World Day of Prayer

                                               “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

World Day of Prayer is a worldwide ecumenical celebration held the first Friday in March. Each year a different country develops the worship service spotlighting issues that they find important. This year a committee of women from France worked together to create the service and they chose to spotlight the struggles of immigration and ways to welcome “the stranger.” Men, women, and children in more than 170 countries and regions will celebrate World Day of Prayer.
Following the service, there is always a reception featuring foods of the “host” country. With France’s multiethnic population in mind, my red-haired food co-pilot (also the local co-pilot of this year’s WDP celebration), suggested making a couscous in recognition of the Moroccan immigrant community in France.
This couscous is not traditionally Moroccan, rather one inspired by Moroccan cooking. It’s good alone or as an accompaniment similar to one you might find  in a Moroccan meal.
This recipe is scaled down to two servings but it can easily feed more by expanding the quantity of ingredients.

A Couscous for the World Day of Prayer
For two servings:
1/3 cup couscous
½ cup water
¼  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Zest and segments from one navel orange
1 Tablespoon harissa (optional)*
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place the water, salt and olive oil into a small saucepan. Place the saucepan over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the couscous, stir and cover the pot. Let the pan sit off the heat for 5 minutes until the water has been absorbed into the couscous.  Let cool.
2. Grate the zest from the orange and place it into a medium-sized mixing bowl. To segment the orange, cut the top and bottom from the orange. Slice the peel of the orange from the top to the bottom, exposing the flesh of the orange. Carefully cut the segments away from the pith; do this over the mixing bowl to capture any juice. Place the segments into a separate small bowl. Squeeze what remains of the orange into the mixing bowl.
3. Place the harissa and the olive oil into the bowl with the zest and juice and whisk to combine. Fluff the cooled couscous with a fork until it is broken up and add it to the mixing bowl. Stir to coat the couscous with the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients-the olives, onion, pistachios, and herbs- and mix to combine. Season the couscous with salt and ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
4. Before serving, remove the couscous from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Cut the orange segments in half, crosswise, and mix them into the couscous. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

                                                          Seared Salmon and Couscous

* Harissa is a Moroccan condiment made from red bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and chili pepper. If you cannot find it, it can be omitted.

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