Friday, October 28, 2011

Couscous Casserole, Anyone?

Janet here: On Monday it was 80 in California where we were visiting the Divine Miss M and her caretakers (aka Rachel and John). Today I drove home through the first snow of the season, a disgusting combination of slush and slop. I was not pleased.

So it goes in the Northeast this time of year. The leaves drop, the weather cools and I begin to think of serious comfort food to get me through winter. Thick hearty soups top my list but so do casseroles. This one from Not Your Mother's Casseroles — yes, I know I'm obviously a food stalker of Faith Durand since I've touted at least nine of her damn fine casseroles — had my husband raving something about how this was one of the best things I've ever made. Now to give you some perspective, I should note that Peter is one of the best people to cook for in the world. For 30 years (!) he has praised every single thing I've made — one notable exception but I'll be writing about that in an upcoming post — and thanked me for the meal. And it's been genuine (trust me, I can smell a food brown-noser a mile away).

I've also made some damn tasty meals over the years. So to hear him repeatedly rave about this every time he's warmed up the leftovers and say this is one of his favorite things ever — well, it's impressive.

So what are you waiting for? Get cooking! And let us know what you think.

Pearl Couscous Gratin with Goat Cheese and Spinach
serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups pearl couscous
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
juice and zest of one lemon
1 shallot, minced
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, cut into ribbons
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous and cook, stirring frequently, until the couscous is a light brown. Add the broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat to low and cook for 14 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and take off the heat.

In a large bowl, mix the couscous with the lemon zest, shallot, spinach and almonds. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs. Then stir in the cottage cheese and about 3/4 of the goat cheese. Add this cheese and egg mix to the couscous mix and mix well. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the couscous mixture in the baking dish. Crumble the rest of the goat cheese on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Back for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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