With a New Year often comes new, or perhaps old, resolutions such as cooking more and eating out less (something that's especially hard in New York City). The key that I've found is making dishes that are simple, streamlined, and don't require a lot of pots and pans. Luckily, the smart folks at Serious Eats have already planned ahead and made this column for single skillet suppers (nice tie-in, right?). But in all seriousness, the right recipes are the essential tools for success.
Whether you're already an avid home cook or someone just beginning their foray into the kitchen, this dish, flavored with cumin and crispy bits of pancetta, is perfect for a quick winter meal and to get you cooking—plus the leftovers are fantastic.
To make this dish entirely vegetarian, omit the pancetta, but you might want to add cheese or something with a salty edge to make up for it. Feel free to use other winter squashes instead of butternut if you prefer those. Dress up leftovers with some toasted sliced almonds, or, even better, by topping them with a fried egg.
Try adding toasted sliced almonds as an additional garnish for some extra crunch. This dish isn't overly spicy, but if you are sensitive to heat, free to leave out the chili pepper and lightly season with dried red chili flakes instead for a milder dish.
- Yield:serves 3 to 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 serrano pepper, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons, see note)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated with a Microplane grater (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 6 ounces Israeli or pearled couscous
- 3 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta and set aside.
Return pan to medium heat. Add the remaining oil and then add the shallots, serrano peppers, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the couscous and broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and squash is tender, about 12 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and pancetta to the pan to warm through, season to taste with salt and pepper and toss with lemon juice. Let sit for a few minutes to allow cous cous to finish hydrating, stir in cilantro, and serve.