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.