Vegetable Couscous Pilaf

I love one dish meals. Aside from a little prep work at the beginning,  you can throw everything together and have a dinner within minutes. This is a Moroccan-style pilaf with crisp-tender veggies, warm spices, slightly sweet apricots, and crunchy toasted almonds. The nice thing about a pilaf is you can easily adjust the ingredients and have a different result every time. For instance, if you don’t like dried apricots, use golden raisins, instead of vegetable broth, use chicken. Speaking of chicken, if you want a little meat, throw in some pieces of rotisserie chicken at the end, etc. This also reheats well for lunch leftovers.

adapted from: Food & Wine
serves: 4

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (or 2 zucchinis)
1 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1½ cups couscous
2¼ cups vegetable stock
½ cup diced dried apricots
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
¼ cup chopped cilantro

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the carrots and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until carrots are lightly browned and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, onion, and garlic and season with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and smoked paprika and stir until fragrant. Add the couscous, and stir frequently until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock and apricots, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let stand off of heat, until the couscous is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

Fluff with a fork, stir in the almonds, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

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