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Couscous Cakes

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It is hard not to like couscous. Each serving packs 5 grams of protein and it can go from sitting in the pantry to filling up your mouth in less than seven minutes. However, as my friend Julie observed the other day, feeding couscous to a child is like putting a sequoia through a wood-chipper in the middle of your dining room. Archeologists will sift through the ruins of your home one day and theorize as to the purpose of all those tiny pellets... .

So I was excited to see a recipe for couscous cakes in Fine Cooking (issue 99, May/June 2009.) All the joy of couscous (albeit slightly more slowly; true) but with a much lower potential for carnage.  

This is a version I came up with the other night:

Couscous Cakes with Sundried Tomatoes & Feta

1 c couscous
1 c water
1 t salt

1 garlic clove
1/2 c chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 T fresh basil, chopped

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/2 c crumbled feta

2 T olive oil for frying, divided

In a saucepan bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork to separate grains.

In the bowl of a food processor (I used my Cuisinart mini-prep which I got for $25) chop garlic. Then add chickpeas and basil and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and add couscous. Then add eggs and stir until well blended. Add tomatoes and feta. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, press mixture into cup. Then invert over a plate and release cake. It sounds like it would get stuck in there but it does slide out prettily easily. You should have eight cakes.

In a ten inch skillet (or two if you are feeling efficient) heat 1 T of olive oil until it is very hot but not smoking. Put four cakes into oil and press down gently on each one to flatten slightly. Cover skillet with lid and cook for about four minutes. Flip cakes and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other side.

Notes: I made this to augment some skimpy pork chops. The chops were terrible but the couscous cakes are something I could eat every week. They would be great as an entree with a salad. I had both feta and sundried tomatoes on hand (and basil. lordy I have basil coming out of my ears this year) so that is what I used but the possibilities as to what you can add are endless.

In the spirit of full disclosure I should admit that the raison d'etre's for making couscous more complicated - namely Caroline and Edward and, to a lesser degree, Patrick - all refused to eat these. Patrick on sight, Caroline after a thoughtful lick-and-spit, and Edward after about six bites. I'll try again, though, because I LOVED them.       

Comments

Every time I read one your posts here I feel woefully inadequate in the food creativity department for little ones (as I would have just spoon fed my 15 mo old the couscous). I'm so happy you created this blog because I now can just borrow your ideas. They look excellent!

Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? Their grain mix is almost as easy as couscous but they use Israeli variety so it's bigger. I cook mine in chicken broth, add in some Greek yogurt, chopped tomatoes, Kalamati olives, maybe basil, maybe some leftover roasted chicken. Tasty!

A second vote for the TJ's grain mix. Israeli couscous, orzo, little baby chickpeas and quinoa. I make it into a sort of cold salad for us grownups, but give it to C. plain.

I am totally going to try these...not so sure about the little people in the house. If you had leftovers from this, do you think they would be tasty cold or re-heated?

My husband and son (teenager) look at me as if I am serving bugs , when I cook couscous. these look wonderful- I'll give them a try.

thanks!

If I keep this up I'm going to have to change my moniker to "oops I did it again" (see my comment on Julia's prior post to see why), but ...

If you bought the couscous and the feta, failing to realize you lacked the basil, that your chickpeas had, um, turned, and found that you lacked sundried tomatoes but had about 3/4 cup of a store-bought tomato/olive tapenade sitting around waiting to be used up, and mixed the couscous, feta, garlic, and tapenade (+ eggs) as described above, things would still turn out fine. If your dinner guest happened to show up with some fresh basil after you'd already made the cakes, you could use it as a garnish.

If I had it to do over, though, I might skip the eggs and just serve the mix as a salad. Intending no offense, I'm not sure the extra work of cooking the cakes pays off.

You can definitely warm them in a microwave, though (to answer Jamie's question). I cooked them hours ahead of time. They don't take much 'waving to warm right up, and they tasted great.

I made a version of these last weekend and they turned out really well. I had to play w/the recipe a little because I can't eat tomatoes. They make my younger daughter, who is still nursing, sick whenever I eat them. I used some left over crab meat and a little bit of goat cheese instead of feta b/c that is what I had in the fridge. Then I made a little cucumber and avacado salad and served it on top of the cakes. They were delicious. They were a very big hit with my older daughter who is 2 1/2. She gobbled them up no problem and she is normally not a cous cous eater. I think this will definitely become a regular dinner staple at our house.

Just made these and while I'm not sure my little people will eat them, I totally will. Delish. Really, so good. Thanks for sharing.

Wow, I made these over the weekend and the whole family loved them. I heated up the leftovers for lunch the following day and they were just as good. Can't wait to make these again.

I really need to keep up with this blog more than I do, because a lot of this looks great. But I had to comment on the couscous cakes: We did this exact recipe (and how AWESOME to know you get Fine Cooking, too! I'm an old, old timey FC subscriber) and Bella practically made them herself -- taught her how to make couscous, she loved all the ingredients, sampled while we made them, made the patties, etc., and I put one on her plate at dinner and she gave me a look like I had just put a turd on her plate. Wouldn't touch it. This from a kid who eats curry and putanesca. Sometimes you just can't win.

Made these last week and they were SO good! Going to become a staple in my repitoire. Drizzled them with balsasmic vinager - oh yum.

An awesome vegetarian entree. I think I'm going to serve it for Christmas dinner! I actually baked the couscous mixture in a muffin tin - a lot easier than frying!

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