Apple picking is a great activity. It’s fun, it’s wholesome, it’s New Englandy, it’s outside, it promotes local food, and if you go with someone you secretly don’t like you can throw apples at them and write it off as “all in good fun.” (I didn’t actually go with anyone I don’t like, but I can imagine doing this. Especially to my brothers, who I actually like, but it’s always fun to throw things at your siblings. Sorry, tangent.) If you live somewhere where there are good apples, you should go – the flavor of a store-bought apple, even a local, organic store-bought apple, pales in comparison with the flavor of one fresh off a tree. However, be prepared to make a lot of apple-y things afterwards. Lately, it seems like everyone I know is trying to figure out what to do with all their apples. The standard story is this: “we went apple picking and it was so much fun that we picked a whole bushel. And now we have 78 apples for 2 people.” Once they’ve had a few crisps, pies, and bowls of applesauce, they want to branch out. So I thought I’d share one of my favorite non-pie apple recipes: curried apple couscous.
This is one of the first recipes I ever made, and I still make it all the time. It comes from 101 cookbooks, which also happens to be the first food blog I ever read. Couscous has always been one of my very favorite foods – I think it’s a combination of the texture and the ease of cooking which makes me like it so much. I almost never go to the trouble of cooking couscous in a pot – the beauty of couscous is that all you need to cook it is boiling water. So I heat up the tea kettle, pour the boiling water over a bowlful of dry couscous, eyeballing the amount I think I need, cover the bowl with a small plate to let it steam – and voila! Delicious hot lunch with no dishes to wash. I’m happy. This recipes takes a touch more effort, but it’s still quick enough to throw together and get the dishes done in ten minutes, which is the time limit for me if I’m going to make something for lunch before work in the morning. It’s also not unhealthy (although I won’t say it’s truly a health food because of the butter and processed grains), and the contrast of flavors and textures is perfect. You can vary the ingredients based on what you have in the fridge, add cheese, change the nuts, and it will probably still be good. Right now I’m imagining a curried pear version with goat cheese and walnuts. But since everyone’s currently in “use up all your apples” mode, I’d try this version first.
Curried Apple Couscous
Adapted slightly from 101 Cookbooks. Serves 1.
- 1 apple, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 TBS butter
- 1 TBS curry powder
- 2 scallions, sliced into rounds
- 1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted
- handful of fresh mint, chopped
- 3/4 c. couscous
- about 1 1/4 c. boiling water
- coarse sea salt
- Heat 1 1/2 TBS butter in medium pan over medium heat. When melted, add curry powder and cook for one minute, stirring, until butter foams. Turn down heat to medium-low and add apples. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are softened. Remove apples from pan and set aside. Add remaining 1/2 TBS butter to pan, along with scallions. Cook for 2 minutes, then set aside with apples.
- Place the couscous and chopped mint in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over to cover by about 1/2 inch. Place a plate or other cover on top of the bowl and allow couscous to steam for 5 minutes. Remove the plate and fluff with a fork. Test for tenderness. If couscous is still hard, or there is too much water left in the bowl, microwave for 30 seconds to complete the cooking/evaporate some of the water. Mix in curried apples, scallions, and toasted almonds. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.