Thursday, July 3, 2008

Black Beauty

I'll start by saying that I've just recently resumed rural living since buying an old farmhouse on a 2 acre lot after living in the historic district of a rapidly growing, not-so-little-anymore city for 7 years in a 900 square foot duplex with a yard about the size of a sandbox. So I planted 27 Black Beauty zucchini plants.
(And 40-some tomato plants, but I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about that later...) Nevertheless, I'm not daunted. They're taking over. I didn't give them quite enough space. I have to tip-toe through like a soldier sweeping the jungle in some Vietnam War film. Slowly, deftly (well, a little clumsily), pushing head-sized leaves aside and sometimes muttering to myself, all the time trying not to step on one of the sometimes not so obvious fruits. I love every minute of it though. They are just starting to come in, and I may have a very different point of view by this time next week, but for the time being I'm going to savor each one.
Zucchini Couscous with Feta and Basil

(A note on quantities: the quantities in this recipe are really not so crucial - the couscous and water should be the same ratio, but other than that, feel free to add as much or as little shallot, zucchini, feta and/or basil as you desire. Add as much olive oil as you feel necessary - I use just enough to moisten the couscous a bit)


1/2 C. water
1/2 C. couscous (I used organic whole wheat bought in bulk from the local co-op)

1 Tb. olive oil
2 small shallots, chopped very fine
2 small zucchini (or one medium), sliced in half lengthwise then cut across into 1/2 inch slices
salt and pepper

4 oz. Feta, crumbled
2 Tb. fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 Tb. olive oil

Prepare the couscous:

Heat water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When it reaches a boil, add the couscous, swirl pan or stir to be sure couscous is covered by the water. Put lid on and remove pan from heat to rest for 5 minutes.

While couscous rests, prepare the zucchini:

Heat 1 Tb. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot (but not smoking) add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and season with a pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until just tender. Remove from heat.

Fluff the cooked couscous with a fork and place in a medium bowl. Add the zucchini mixture, Feta and basil. Drizzle in 1 Tb. olive oil and fold all together gently. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary and serve warm or at room temperature.

*Variation: This dish is also quite tasty with 1-1/2 Tb. each of toasted pine nuts and golden raisins added in with the Feta and basil.