sundried tomato couscous + fried halloumi

Although my grief is far from over, I’m back in the game. This weekend was all about long hours spent with delicious reads (Joan Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted, Alessandro Baricco’s Emmaus, and Charlotte Druckman’s Skirt Steak), dinners on my deck, and piles of food that aimed to comfort and enthrall.

After meeting with my lovely food editor (and new friend), Charlotte, and chatting formalism, feminism, Goya, graduate schools and the composition of a perfect cake, I was left inspired and thinking about a new type of food book. More details on this soon.

For now, take comfort that this recipe is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Not only was it perfect for dinner yesterday, it made for yummy lunch leftovers.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Megan Gordon’s Whole Grain Mornings. Stay tuned for my stellar cookbook review in Medium.
For the herbed couscous
1 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground corriander
3 tsp za’atar, plus more for garnish*
3/4 cup whole wheat or regular cous cous
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup drained and chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil*
3/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground cracked black pepper to taste

For the fried halloumi
1 8oz pack of halloumi cheese
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
Juice from 1/2 lemon

*Margin Notes: Luckily, I live by a well-stocked grocery that had za’atar, but it’s super simple to make at home: 2 tbsp dried thyme, 2 tbsp dried oregano, 2 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted, 1 tbsp ground sumac, 1/4 tsp kosher salt. This batch yields about 1/2 cup, far more than this recipe needs, but you can use this on top of toasted bread in the oven with a splash of olive oil.

Also, I would have included 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, as the couscous seemed a bit dry with just one. The cheese will meld into the dish, but I love my grains with a bit of juice. I nixed the yoghurt lemony sauce that accompanied the recipe (which could be your salve) as I’m trying to observe a dairy-reduced diet. I’ll invest in the halloumi, but a yoghurt sauce might set me into a dairy coma.

For the couscous: In a small saucepan bring the water to a boil. Stir in the zest, coriander, cinnamon, za’atar and couscous. Remove from the heat, and let it sit, covered, for ten minutes. Fluff with a fork, and stir in the parsley, sundried tomatoes, red peppers, olive oil, salt and pepper.

For the halloumi: Unwrap the cheese and blot with a paper towel to remove any excess water. Slice into 8 1/4 slices. The halloumi can sometimes break apart, so be sure to use a serrated knife and go easy, and if it does, who cares? IT’S STILL CHEESE. Warm the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Lay the cheese down and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for about a minute until both slides are brown. Remove the cheese and serve on top of your beloved grains. I added a piece of homemade pita with the remaining za’atar.

Proceed to DEVOUR.


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