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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

sweet squash couscous with brown butter

not my picture. Thanks Creative Commons!

I was reminded today of a particularly desperate time in my personal gastro-chronology by a friend who, having just returned from Morocco, had perfectly nothing good to say about couscous.

I balked for a moment when she told me, having just recently rediscovered my love for the tiny bits of grain. But then remembered that I ate the stuff every single day for close to a year my first year of college, and I was pretty over it after repeat doses.

Freshman year was a tough one. I have these repressed memories of my dad loading 3 cases of "Near East" individual serving-size boxes into the back of his Volkswagon. We'd make our way up I-75, from Cincinnati to Dayton, and I would pray to "Cheese-us" that we would get into a terrible accident and I would be spared from lonley nights eating microwaved couscous with it's mysterious green-flecked "seasoning"and watching 10 Things I Hate About You for the fortieth time.

Sophomore year I wisened up, got a credit card and a boyfriend, and we stuffed our faces at every indian buffet in Southwest Ohio. And now that I'm on the other side of massive credit defaults, I'm tempted to say it was worth it. Couscous has been restored to a perfectly delightful, quick and frugal way to enjoy a Sunday.

This dish requires a lot of pans and a good bit of time, most of which, however, is patiently waiting for the squash to cook and the onions to caramelize. I wrote some postcards to friends in the meantime. The payoff comes in could make this for 40 people or 40 lunches pretty easily.

sweet squash couscous with brown butter

3 cups couscous
1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped
1 butternut squash, cooked and cubed
1.5 onions
handful of chopped walnuts
handful of golden raisins
bit of brown sugar

First, put the squash in the oven and allow to bake for about 45 minutes. Take .5 of an onion and chop it into strips. Carmalize in a pan on low heat for about 30-45 minutes. Chop the rest of the onion small, and fry until translucent in a large pan. Add couscous, water, and steam until tender. In another pan, sautee spinach. When the onions are almost done carmalizing, toss in the raisins and walnuts and top with brown sugar, allowing all the ingredients to get kind of bubbling and clustery.

Brown butter in a pan until it is golden and smells nutty. Mix all ingredients in a large pot, including cubed squash, with the heat on low, toss with the brown butter.

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