Couscous is a wonderful pantry staple. It's the fastest pasta (or any starchy grain) I know how to cook, and its fluffy texture and mild flavor pair well with just about anything you throw at it. In Joanne Chang's new cookbook Flour, Too, she steams the pasta with a rainbow of summer vegetables and a couple of cups of slowly braised chickpeas. Not content with this everyday flavor profile, Chang flavors the dish with North African flair. First, turmeric, garlic, and cumin go in with the couscous. Then Chang finishes the dish with a dollop of spicy, creamy harissa-spiked yogurt. The final touch is a fried egg with a runny yolk perfect for popping and stirring throughout the serving bowl.
Why I picked this recipe: Couscous, harissa, and fried eggs are three of my favorite things. Add some virtuous veggies and this dish is a home-run in my book.
What worked: This is exactly the kind of meal I like to eat throughout the summer (and especially on a busy Wednesday night). If you make the chickpeas ahead of time (or use cans), the whole thing comes together in less than an hour and is a balanced meal all in one bowl.
What didn't: Be cautious when mixing the harissa yogurt. My harissa is super spicy, so I cut her suggested amount in half. I'd suggest adding harissa by the tablespoon and taste as you go.
Suggested tweaks: You could absolutely change the vegetables included here. Any leafy green would work in place of the spinach, and you could mix and match squash and peppers to your heart's content. For the best visual presentation, keep things colorful and choose a variety. And, for any vegans out there, the veggies and couscous taste just great on their own, sans eggs and yogurt. Also, a few slices of avocado wouldn't hurt.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.