Before we start, I have to fess up: this recipe has nothing to do with real couscous, except for a somewhat similar appearance and texture, and the way it's served. Like couscous, it makes a fine bed for a more substantial main dish, but it's also worth its own course. The thing is, I saw a Spanish chef on an Israeli TV cooking show mention something by the name of "cauliflower couscous", but I didn't even get a good look at what it was, let alone how he made it. I took this as a considerable extension of the standard reverse cuisine challenge, and set out to make some. This recipe is the result. The spices make for all the fun, but feel free to try any combination of spices with the same preparation.
Ingredients (to serve 2 as a main course, or 4 with another dish):
1 cup flavorful stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable) -- instant stock will do! -- or any leftover soup. Use half the amount for a very dry dish (e.g. to be served with sauce).
To garnish (any one or combination of the following):
- 1 medium cauliflower
- 1 largish carrot (optional]
- 8-10 tablespoons olive oil
- Whole spices (if you only have these ground, that's OK, except for the mustard):
- Ground spices (half a teaspoon to one teaspoon each -- you can substitute whole spices, chopped, if you only have them that way, for all but the nutmeg):
Grate the cauliflower. That's right, grate it. Grab the whole thing by the stem, and grate it using your coarsest grater. The florets should quickly crumble away to rather fine bits, leaving you with the tougher stem; you can grate this too, though for a more even size you might want to use a finer grater. You could use the food processor's grating disc, but it's probably not worth the trouble. Grate the carrot and add it too, if using it (use a fine grater, as carrot does not crumble). (If you have the califlower greens, reserve them to blanche in boiling water, and serve the couscous on top of. Or add them to the stock for extra flavour.)
Measure or count out the spices, and have ready in two little bowls (one for whole, one for ground).
In a heavy pan large enough to accomodate the grated cauliflower, heat half the oil over a medium heat. When smoking hot, add the whole spices and stir vigorously. As soon as they brown or pop, pour in the grated cauliflower (and carrot). Stir well, until the oil has coated everything, and the spices are evenly distributed. Drizzle the rest of the oil on top. If there is excess liquid in the bottom of the pan, cook uncovered for a minute or two.
Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, for 5-8 minutes. Lift the lid only once or twice to monitor, but when you do, give the "couscous" a good stir. You might reheat the stock during this time.
When the dish is very dry, or browned, or begins to smell smoky or slightly burnt, sprinkle the ground spices and pour in the stock. Don't bother to stir. Replace the lid, and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until rather dry and crumbly again.
Serve, mounded and garnished, or spread out as a bed for another dish.
A haggai original recipe