Well Dined

29Mar/110

The fastest, easiest dinner you will ever make

In college, I learned a great trick to fast and easy dinners by using couscous. Couscous is a tiny round pasta that cooks in 5-10 min; it is a wonderful blank canvas that you can add anything to. In college, this usually meant whatever canned vegetables I had lying around in the pantry. Over the years, I developed several go-to mix-in combinations that I threw together whenever I didn't have a dinner plan.

To make the basic version, bring 1.5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup couscous, salt and pepper. Cover and let sit 10 minutes, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Add your mix-ins when you add the couscous to the stock, and they will warm up as it sits. Below are some of my favorite variations.

Italian
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes, drained
3tbsp pesto
1 clove garlic, minced

Add 1/2 (15 oz) can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained), or 1 cup shredded or diced cooked chicken for protein
Sprinkle w/ chopped fresh basil

Optional - add some grated Parmesan, crumbled feta, or crumbled goat cheese.

Moroccan
1/2 cup dried apricots, minced or slivered
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric

Add 1/2 (15 oz) can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained), or 1 cup shredded or diced cooked chicken for protein
Sprinkle w/ chopped fresh mint

Optional - orange zest and lemon juice, dried currants or raisins, crumbled feta

Southwest
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 (15 oz) can beans (black, kidney, pinto), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn kernels (defrosted, if frozen)
1/4 tsp cumin

Optional - diced bell pepper, diced jalapeno, shredded Jack cheese, 1 cup shredded or diced cooked chicken
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley

Spanish
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped green olives
pinch of saffron
1/4 tsp cumin

Optional - add 1/2 cup English peas, defrosted if frozen

Add 1/2 (15 oz) can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained), or 1 cup shredded or diced cooked chicken for protein
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley

Indian
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp curry powder

Add 1/2 (15 oz) can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained), or 1 cup shredded or diced cooked chicken for protein
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley

By now you get the idea, and you should be able to come up with combinations of your own. I hope this saves you some time and stress.

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