June 24th, 2011

Sauteed Shrimp and Onions over Cayenne Couscous

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Making dinner the other night, I decided I wanted to be a little fancy, a little nicer than usual. Of course, for me this meant it took 35 minutes to cook the meal, as opposed to 20. And it involved two whole pots! But the big difference was that I decided to experiment with spice, and one that is not salt. 

I knew that the couscous needed some flavor; the shrimp and onions were smoky and sweet, but the  couscous was just bland. So I made myself a little tasting bowl, tried out different spices, and landed on cayenne pepper. I did this because I didn’t want to dump every random spice into the main batch of couscous  and ruin the batch (I might have to pull out another pan – the horror!). And you know what? The experiment worked! The cayenne added to the smokiness of the onions and shrimp, but it counteracted the sweetness with a kick of savory. I didn’t add much, but it was just enough to elevate this weeknight dish to something I would make for friends (with the expectation of fanfare, of course).

Sauteed Baby Shrimp and Onions over Cayenne Couscous

Ingredients (all organic)

1 red onion

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup dry whole wheat couscous

6 ounces baby shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)

salt to taste

Directions

Slice onions into long strips and dice the garlic. Add, with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, to a saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the onion with the sugar and stir regularly until the onions are soft (about 10 or 15 minutes). Prepare couscous according to package directions. After couscous is cooked, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, all of the cayenne, and salt to taste.  Once the onions are soft, add shrimp and cook until they are bright pink, and have a bit of char. Then put a cup of the couscous on a plate, and top with half the onion and shrimp mixture, repeat on a second plate. I used a fork to push the couscous into a shape, but that is obviously a presentation choice, not a taste one. Enjoy! Yield – 2 entree servings.

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Comments

    Katie: Your shrimp with couscous looks delicious and I like the Cayenne pepper idea! My friends and I are planning a Moroccan menu for this weekend and I was thinking of experimenting with different couscous options. If you don’t want to mess up a lot of pots, you could also try adding in some toasted and ground cumin or chopping dates and tossing those in with some grated orange zest.
    Also, a great way to “fluff” the couscous is to steam it, ideally in a couscoussier or place a steamer basket over boiling water. Place a clean dishtowel in the basket and add the partially-cooked couscous. Empty steamed couscous into a large bowl. Then–and this I learned from an Algerian cook in France–you add some butter and gently roll a handful of grains at a time between both hands until all the couscous has been separated and “fluffed”; repeat steaming and rolling. It takes a bit more time, but it’s worth the effort.
    Thanks for a great spic idea for couscous.

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