Morocco’s cuisine is as vibrant as the people who live in the north African country. Throughout Morocco you’ll find restaurants that are pushing the boundaries of Moroccan cuisine by incorporating foreign preparations to traditional ingredients like the Cafe Clock which serves camel burgers. In particular, it borrows from French cuisine. France ruled Morocco as a colonial power for almost 50 years and the countries shared culture and cooking techniques. This fusion specializes in exotic Moroccan spices and classic French cooking techniques and is known as “Nouvelle Marocaine.”
The most popular ingredient to come out of Morocco is couscous. Couscous is a small pearl-like pasta used throughout Moroccan cooking. Couscous is known for its light and fluffy consistency that it gets from absorbing the liquid it’s cooked in. It’s an extremely versatile ingredient and many cultures have incorporated it into recipes. Couscous can be topped with meat-filled sauces for a filling meal or tossed with vegetables and herbs for a tabbouleh salad.
This vegetarian couscous recipe blends Moroccan and French flavors. The butter-based sauce is filled with French influences like fennel root, which has a licorice aroma and raisins that add sweetness. Round out the sauce with green peppers, carrots and zucchini which become tender and give the sauce body. White beans and mushrooms add meatiness to the sauce making it filling enough to serve as a main dish. A little hot pepper sauce adds just the right amount of heat and keeps the sauce from becoming too sweet. Serve with authentic Moroccan bread or go international with naan.
Couscous with French-Inspired Beans
For the Grain:
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
For the Vegetable Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 2 carrots, cut in rounds
- 1 zucchini, cubed
- 1 cup peas
- 1 diced fennel root (optional)
- 12 ounces Randall Great Northern Beans
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 8 small to medium mushrooms
- 1/4 cup raisins
Place couscous in a bowl and stir in water and salt. Let soak for about 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Rub grain between your fingers until there are no lumps. Then place in a vegetable steamer line with cheesecloth and steam for 30 minutes.
Heat fat for sauce in a 1 quart pot and sauté onion for 3 to 5 minutes to soften. Add tomato, green pepper, carrots, zucchini, peas, fennel, Randall Beans, and salt; cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Add pepper sauce, mushrooms, and raisins; cover and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes until all vegetables are tender.
When ready to serve, place couscous in a bowl, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to melt, and top with the vegetable sauce either in the serving dish or on individual plates.
This recipe featuring Randall Beans Great Northern White Beans is a perfect summer side dish.