Roasted root vegetables on Israeli couscous

After getting married in southern California, my husband and I decided to grow a few tomato plants.  Even though the heat and sun majorly sucks down there during the spring-summer-fall singular-like season, you can get just about anything to grow down there.  Just throw something into the ground with enough water and, voila, it grows!

Enter our move to Montana.  This is our second year of planting a summer garden and, unfortunately, the environment isn’t as forgiving as southern California — we’re still getting the hang of things.  (Maybe third time’s the charm?)  While we were able to harvest more this year, we have yet to get the timing right for quite a few of our plants.  For example, our poor tomatoes: we only managed to harvest about six of them this summer!

On the other hand, if there is one thing that is easy to grow up here, it would be root vegetables.

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Hello, beets.

Yes, I used to be one of those professed beet haters (from a can, they totally taste like dirt) until someone gave me a home grown bunch and instructed me to oven roast them.

I haven’t turned back since.

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The following weekend after getting sick, I was still coughing and recuperating while my husband was off in South Dakota for a mountain biking race.  I was hungry and looking for inspiration for a antioxidant- and phytonutrient-rich meal to help me get better faster.  As I slowly walked around our property with the pups, I decided to go into our garden and harvest a few beets, carrots, and some parsley.

Now what to do?  Roast them, of course.  But what should I eat them with?  Some sort of starch.  Looking through the cabinets, my eyes settled on some Israeli couscous I bought recently to try.  How to flavor it?  Maybe with some garlic, parsley, oregano, vegetable broth.

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I had some leftover ground “beef” for chili I made earlier this week and decided to use it.

The result?  A beautiful dish of roasted vegetables on a bed of Italian-flavored Israeli couscous with beef crumbles.

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Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves as much as you possibly have to roast

INGREDIENTS:

  • Beets, peeled
  • Carrots, lightly peeled with edge of knife blade and tops trimmed
  • Radishes
  • Yams, peeled
  • Sweet potatoes, peeled
  • And/or any other kind of root vegetable you want!

DIRECTIONS:

Set oven temperature to 425 deg F.

Prepare your vegetables; if anything is close to the size of softball, they will roast better if cut in half.  If you prefer to cook with little to no oil, line the bottom of a roasting pan with parchment paper.  Lightly spray vegetables with olive oil, lightly season with sea salt, and top with fresh herbs if wanted (this whole sentence is optional; I used flat leaf parsley here).  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for 1 hour.  When done, uncover and let the vegetables cool enough to eat.

Recipe Notes:

  • Another option for roasting is to wrap the vegetables in aluminum foil and crimp along the top.  If I have a couple of small beets, I’d put them together; if it’s a single really large beet, I would slice it in half but leave them in the same pouch.  For the three small carrots that are in the photos, I would’ve placed them in a single pouch.
  • I can’t really call recipe (or the next one) a true recipe.  They’re more like guidelines for roasting large vegetables and how to flavor pasta!

— — —

Italian Seasoned Israeli Couscous

Serves 2 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/4 cup water OR broth
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot OR about the same amount of red onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning OR oregano/basil combo
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh herbs, minced (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Place the water (or broth) into a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook till all the liquid is absorbed, about 8-10 minutes.  Fluff up gently with a utensil, further season with salt as needed.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can toast the couscous for more flavor.  Place the couscous in a pot on medium high heat and move often until the couscous has a lightly toasted color.
  • Israeli couscous is sometimes (usually?) cooked like pasta: boiled till al dente, then drained.  I strayed from that method and cooked everything together.  Next time, I may try cooking the couscous with the water/broth first, drain it, lightly spray with olive oil so they couscous doesn’t clump as much, then mix in everything else.
  • If you aren’t averse to oil to prevent clumping, you can try adding the oil to the boiling water or spray it on the cooked product like I just mentioned.
  • When the couscous is al dente or cooked to your preference, you can drain the excess water if some still exists at this point.
  • I’ve been wanting to make this recipe with barley!  Other than the cooking time being different, the rest of it should be the same.
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