Serious Eats: Recipes

Chickpea, Pumpkin, and Raisin Couscous

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

Shopping List

14 ounces boxed chopped tomatoes: $2.00
1 cup dried chickpeas: $0.75
2 cups squash (pro-rated): $1.50
1 medium zucchini: $0.60
2 cups whole wheat couscous: $2.00

Pantry items: Ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, olive oil, cinnamon stick, onion, raisins, vegetable or chicken stock, salt, cilantro, parsley, harissa or other hot sauce.

Total cost (for 4 portions): $6.85

As I dished up this couscous, my heart sank: it looked like many other vegetable stews that had disappointed me in the past with their tasteless chunks of watery squash and air of grimly determined healthiness. I had recently been thinking of how Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian never lets me down, and I figured I was paying some kind of karmic price for being foolishly faithful.

Well, the faith lives! I don't know if it was the spice blend or the cooking method, but this dish was fragrant, deliciously various, and satisfying in every way. Although I had been too lazy to chop cilantro and parsley and did not have any harissa, in my opinion it shone even without garnishes. I didn't have it in me to make a salad, either, but some simply dressed romaine or a grated carrot salad would be nice here.

The recipe increases well. Make a double batch of the stew, put half in the freezer, and eat it later with freshly-cooked couscous. Although I cook my own chickpeas (cheaper!), canned should be fine here. Powdered stock is probably fine, too, but I used a "stock" I had made simply by simmering a couple of leftover chicken bones with a handful of parsley stems, a halved onion, and a smashed clove of garlic.

Chickpeas, Pumpkin, and Raisins with Couscous

About the author: Robin Bellinger is a freelance editor and shameless cookie addict. She lives in San Francisco and blogs about what she feeds her husband and her daughter at home*economics.

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