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
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.