Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sauteed Vegetables with Bacon and Israeli Couscous

I was a vegetarian for 15 years and was very happy living so until I decided to open an inn and conference center and my non-vegetarian friends convinced me that I had to serve meat, in addition to the fabulous vegetarian fare I had developed. That was three years ago and while I am not a "hunk of meat" eater, I do enjoy flavoring my food with meat, particularly cured pork products like bacon or pancetta. I love the smoky salty flavor it imparts to a simple stir fry like this one I whipped up recently, which serves as wonderful comfort food as the rains descended on the California coast.

Similar to this previous post, this dish combines cooked grains with a quick sautee of vegetables and about 1 tablespoon of bacon. Israeli couscous is kind of a cross between rice and Moroccan couscous in that you need to boil it in about twice the amount of water but don't need to cover it (to steam as rice is cooked). So it is fast, but not as fast as Moroccan couscous, which I can't digest very well.

I'm a huge fan of using red cabbage in quick sautees since a little heat brings out its natural sweetness. Together with the smokiness of the bacon and the heartiness of the Israeli Couscous, this is kind of a perfect meal!

Sauteed Vegetables with Bacon and Israeli Couscous

2 strips of bacon, diced
1 small stalk broccoli, chopped
1-2 cups red cabbage, roughly shredded
1/2 bunch kale, roughly shredded
1/2 onion, sliced lengthwise
splash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup Israeli Couscous
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pan combine couscous and water and bring to boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook 15 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, sautee diced bacon in skillet until most of fat has rendered but bacon is not yet crisp. Add onions and cook another 3 minutes. Add broccoli and cook another 3 minutes. Add red cabbage and cook another 3 minutes and then add kale and cook another 3 minutes until wilted but still green. Stir in couscous and adjust for salt and pepper. Taste the dish and if you like, add splash (teaspoon) of balsamic vinegar, which serves to bring out the sweetness of the cabbage and temper the bitterness of the kale.


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