I’ve been thinking a lot about side dishes lately. I’ve got some pretty good main dishes down (lemon chicken, tilaplia, pastas, etc.), but sometimes I get tired of making salads and steaming vegetables, healthy though they may be.
I didn’t necessarily want to find a recipe so much as I wanted to create something new. After rummaging through the cabinets to see what I had in the kitchen (and don’t the best dishes start with that?), I found a box of couscous. I’ve made it a hundred times before, but remembered a particular couscous recipe with saffron I’d made from my clean eating cookbook. I had only made it once, and therefore had most of the spice still in my cabinet. Since the saffron cost SEVENTEEN dollars, I knew I wanted to use it for something… anything.
I almost left out the spice packet that came with this couscous, but I’m glad I didn’t. I just cooked it according to the package directions with one very special addition at the end.
When I found the couscous, I decided that I wanted to include a vegetable with it to give it a little more substance, and I had a few carrots in the fridge. Bingo! (They’re great, but they’re not the special addition – wait for it!)
Before I started on the couscous, I got the carrots going. The couscous only takes about five minutes to cook, where the carrots take more like 15. I melted about a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan, added 1/3 cup of water and the carrots. Then I added in the juice of half a lemon. I’ve made carrots like this before and I really like it. The lemon juice brings out a fantastic sweetness in the carrots.
Meanwhile, I cooked the couscous and when it came time to take it off the heat and cover it, I added in the magic.
Honey! I have become a huge fan of honey ever since I read in eating clean books and blogs that it’s a great alternative to sugar for sweetening things. I’ve made some marinades with honey and spices, so I thought “Hey, the couscous has garlic… why not sweeten it up?” I added about a quarter of a cup.
When the carrots were finished, I mixed them into the couscous along with the saffron. Done! Verdict? Fabulous. If a quarter cup of honey is too much for you, use a little less. This dish is so much more exciting than regular couscous (or regular carrots, for that matter), and I think it’s going to make a wonderful side dish.
Sweet and Spicy Couscous with Carrots
1 box couscous (I used the garlic and olive oil kind)
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon saffron threads
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the water, lemon juice, and carrots. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, approximately fifteen minutes.
2. Cook the couscous according to package directions.
3. When you remove the couscous from the heat, stir in 1/4 cup honey. Cover and let sit for five minutes.
4. Once carrots are finished, stir them into the couscous.
5. Stir in saffron and sprinkle a bit on top.
Enjoy! And as always – get creative and make it your own!