24 August 2009

Couscous with garbanzo beans & roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Oh, for crying out loud. This was so easy to make and tastes so yummy, it feels like cheating. Once again I must proclaim my love for couscous and my love for this recently discovered roasted red pepper vinaigrette.

You know what else would be really good in this recipe? Duh: ARTICHOKE HEARTS. Unfortunately, I didn't have any on hand. Pine nuts would also be a nice stir-in, if you have those handy. It's still pretty darn good just plain and simple, though. The fresh garlic gives it quite a punch; I definitely would not use more than 1 clove's worth.

I was really tired when I got home from work, and I'm glad this recipe occurred to me, because I think it took all of 20 minutes to make - and 10 of that was boiling water. Seriously.

Couscous with garbanzo beans & roasted red pepper vinaigrette

1 cup couscous
1 cup water
dash olive oil
1 can garbanzo beans
1 clove of garlic, minced
roasted red pepper vinaigrette (see this post)

Boil the water with the olive oil and a dash of sea salt, also, if desired. Stir the couscous into the water, cover and remove from heat. Let sit covered while you make the rest of the recipe.

Rinse the garbanzo beans and put them in a large bowl. Stir the minced garlic in with the beans. Make the red pepper vinaigrette. When that's done, check on your couscous; it should be good to go (it's ready when it's absorbed all the water). Fluff it with a fork before you top the bean mixture with it, then pour the vinaigrette all over the top and mix it up. Can serve warm or cold.

Makes 4 servings.

17 August 2009

Summery pasta salad with roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Am I the only one for whom making a vinaigrette provides an inordinate sense of accomplishment? No? Oh, good.

My best friend and I agreed today that the best recipes are Frankensteined recipes, patched together from a bevy of sources. I will admit quite frankly that the only reason this pasta salad is so tasty is because of this recipe from http://www.smittenkitchen.com/, which is basically the greatest food blog on the face of the planet, and you should immediately desert this particular blog and go over there and lose yourself in a multitude of witty writing, gorgeous photography and incredible recipes.

But when you come back, you might enjoy considering my own pasta salad recipe, which as I say is based on the recipe linked above, but with fewer pretty photos and more shortcuts and artichoke hearts involved. For example, I am, if nothing else, lazy, so rather than buying peas in the pod and shelling them, I bought (organic) frozen peas and threw them in the pot of boiling water when the pasta was almost done cooking.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. The real genius of this recipe (which again I entirely credit to the phenomenally talented Deb) is the roasted red pepper vinaigrette. Smittenkitchen has taught me that it's not necessarily that hard to make a vinaigrette, and that it is almost ridiculously fulfilling. Seriously, I was quoting "Ozymandias" to my dogs, who gave me looks of appropriate confusion and skeptical good-humored tolerance.

Enough with my foodie freakout, though. Have a recipe. Or two, technically. As Deb points out, the vinaigrette would be fabulous on other foods, including salad, and I'm betting crab cakes as well. And you know how I feel about crab cakes.

Summery Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

1 lb pasta shells
1 c organic frozen peas
1/2 c chopped artichoke hearts (marinated or non-marinated, take your pick; I sort of like the non-marinated with this recipe, because it lets the vinaigrette's flavor come through better)
~1 Tbs fresh chives, chopped
Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta, cooking according to the directions on the package. When the pasta has about three minutes left, add the frozen peas to the boiling water. Drain, rinse with cold water, and put into a large serving bowl. Add the chopped artichoke hearts and chives, pour the vinaigrette over all, and stir it up, little darlin'. Devour.

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

1 roasted red bell pepper (you can roast a red bell pepper yourself, which takes a really long time, or you can buy red bell peppers already roasted in handy-dandy jars at the supermarket. What a country! Just pull enough roasted pepper out of the jar until it looks like approximately a full bell pepper, maybe a little more.)
1-2 Tbs chopped shallot (one small shallot) (my small shallot turned out to be 2 Tbs, Deb's was 1)
2-4 Tbs red wine vinegar, depending on how much you like red wine vinegar (I used 4 Tbs)
1/4 c olive oil
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Use a food processor or blender to puree the bell pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree until smooth. Taste & add more of various ingredients as preferred. : )