I’m musing rather than documenting here. It occurs to me that I rarely follow a recipe as written. Baking is different. That’s science and needs to be followed, but a meat or seafood dish, soup or salads are often open to individual technique or substitution.
Case in point. I recently came across a recipe for a dish that included roasted vegetables and Israeli (pearl) couscous. I was reminded of Yotam Ottolenghi’s dictum that dishes that include roasted vegetables and grains were most flavorful served at room temperature, so it seemed like something that would be good as part of a cookout or a buffet.
The directions for the original recipe were fairly complicated. I have a tendency to zero in on the essence of a recipe and simplify the process whenever possible. In this case, I broke it down to the following steps:
1. Follow the directions on the package for a cup of couscous, substituting chicken broth for water. Set aside when done.
2. While the couscous is cooking, slice the top off of a head of garlic, drizzle a bit of olive oil on the exposed cloves and wrap tightly in foil. Put in a 375 degree oven while making the dish. Softening the garlic takes about an hour.
3. Slice a medium to large onion. Sautés it in olive oil until it is caramelized. Set aside.
4. Cut about 8 ounces of cherry tomatoes in halves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast them in the same oven that already houses the garlic. They should soften and start to caramelize in about a half hour. By then, the garlic should also be soft. If not, leave it in a bit longer.
5. Once all ingredients have been prepped and have cooled somewhat, combine the couscous, onions, and tomatoes. Squeeze the softened garlic from the bulb into the dish. You might not want to use the whole bulb if it’s really large, but sweet roasted garlic has lots of uses, so it won’t go to waste.
6. Stir ingredients. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Let flavors meld for at least an hour. Serve at room temperature.
7. Will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, but bring back to room temperature before serving.