Risotto-Style Couscous With Asparagus

25 01 2015

The style of cooking risotto can be applied to other similar “miniature pearl” starches, such as couscous. The technique is all about adding warm stock in stages to allow it to cook gradually and absorb the liquid. By using a large skillet like I do here, it will take less time too. Serve with quick cooking scallops and asparagus for a special meal that won’t take hours!

Risotto-Style Couscous With Asparagus

The following serves 4 (adapted from The Italian Table):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken stock, warmed
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous or couscous medley with orzo, peas and lentils
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and 1/4 – 1/2 of the bunch cut into thirds
  • 1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Next, add the couscous and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, a few minutes. Add the wine, stir well and cook until the wine evaporates.

Meanwhile, heat chicken stock in a saucepan until warmed.

Add 1 cup of warmed chicken stock to the couscous and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the stock is absorbed. Add another cup of warmed stock and continue to cook, stirring often and until absorbed. Finally, add the remaining cup of stock and cook couscous, stirring until tender. This process will take about 15 minutes. Just be sure not to walk away and don’t forget to stir.

Fold in the chopped asparagus, butter and cheese, stirring constantly until butter is melted and everything is fully incorporated and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the risotto is cooking, you can roast the rest of the asparagus and quickly sear scallops to round out the meal.

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