My car has been in the shop all week so we've been relying on using Jim's car for any running around. He retires from the U.S. Navy in 8 days and has been on job hunting leave the past 3 weeks, but he had to go in this week to assist "the new guy" to get him ready for a big training that's coming up. Did I mention we're moving to New York in a month?
So anyway.. back to where I really mean for this story to go. I have basically been stranded at home with no vehicle and the only available vehicle has been taking my husband to and from work. Meaning I have to figure out meals using ingredients I have in the kitchen. It wouldn't be so bad, but I really do need to go grocery shopping. We had Jim's retirement party this past weekend and most of my good stuff went toward making food for that.
Yesterday I stood in front of my extremely messy fridge, staring into the abyss of nothingness. Can't really make much with condiments, hm? I remembered I had a little beef made for stirfry in the freezer. I didn't use all of it when I made minestrone soup for my friend last week. So I pulled that out and started thawing it.
I also had a butternut squash that I had been debating making soup with, but everybody has been making that recently and I wanted to give you all something NEW to make with it. So. Beef. Butternut Squash. I peeked in my thinning pantry (trying to use things up before the move) and found a box of Pine Nut CousCous. Yum. I'm starting to get an idea!
I noticed a jar of roasted red peppers in my fridge so I grabbed those too. Oh and I had green onion! I began my meal.
I started by making the couscous according to the directions on the package. It doesn't take that long to make, but that's okay. This was a VERY quick meal to make. We're talking under 30 minutes!
While the couscous steams on the stovetop, I sliced up one bunch (about 1/3 cup) of green onion. Slicing on the diagonal so it looks pretty.
I only needed to use the flesh of the neck on the squash. Cut it off just above the bulb part and cut the top off. Use your knife to cut off the rind.
Then dice into bite-sized cubes. Pretty easy. Man this squash smelt soooo good.
What you want to do next is cook the squash a little. Put in a small pan of water and boil for about 5 minutes.
Strain after those five minutes and let sit.
While the squash cooked and drained, I made the dressing. In a bowl put: 3 Tbsp olive oil, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed (see next picture), 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Mix everything well using a whisk.
To toast the coriander seeds, heat up a skillet. Dump in the seeds and shake to toast. You might hear tiny popping sounds as the oils start releasing. I used the side of a mug to crush them. Once crushed, dump into the dressing.
Using the same skillet you toasted the coriander in (I hate messing up more pans than necessary), put a little olive oil. Start cooking the beef and butternut squash.
Add the green onion. If you don't like onion, I really suggest you try it this time. You'll cook out a lot of the onion flavor that you probably don't like. Cook those with the meat and squash for a couple minutes.
Add a couple spoonfuls of roasted red bell pepper. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Add a small shake of red pepper flakes. You could use red chilies but I didn't have any on hand. I wanted just a little heat so I used one quick shake. Cook another minute. The heat will release the oil from those seeds.
Now add the cooked couscous to the pan and mix everything together.
If you want to get fancy, you can spoon some of this into a round shaped bowl. Press firm, and then release it onto a plate to give you a formed shape. Drizzle with dressing. Otherwise just spoon into bowls and drizzle with dressing.
The box of couscous doesn't make much. We had just enough for Jim, me, and our 7 year old. It was really good. My almost 11 month old loved it so much she ate almost half of mine!