When I think of couscous, I immediately imagine some gloriously sunny afternoon near the Mediterranean. You know what I don't think about? A wintery January day in Chicago, especially one where there's a foot of snow on the ground and I have to shovel the sidewalk. But perhaps my strange weather association has more to do with the ingredients that go with the couscous than the actual tiny spheres of semolina. If that's the case, why not adapt it to my needs?
That explains what roasted butternut squash and apples are doing here, and both do a hell of job making this dish more warming and comforting. The butternut squash pieces are sweet and creamy, while the apples stay tart and acidic. Perhaps not wanting to cut ties with the Mediterranean sea completely, I made a pitstop in Spain, adding in chorizo and smoked paprika. But those additions add heft and depth, which kind of goes along with my interpretation, anyway.
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, end trimmed, seeds removed, flesh chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tart apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 ounces chorizo, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of oil in a large roasting pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer pan to oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove pan and stir squash. Add apples to the pan and return to oven. Cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes more, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove pan when done.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium. Add chorizo and cook until the pieces crisp up, about 30 seconds. Stir in couscous and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a maintain a simmer. Cook until couscous is tender and the liquid has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the couscous and the roasted squash and apples. Toss well. Season to taste with more salt and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Serve immediately.