So – every night on our trip in Spain, we were treated to a beautifully presented, gourmet, healthy vegan meal. Amazing, I know. We were spoiled. But, it reminded me of how much I love food as art. Both the creation and presentation of food can be an act of creativity and a gift of love. I thought it would be fun to do this as at home with the kids on a regular basis. So, on Friday night, I created a more elegant meal – the meal was presented rather than dished out of a bowl on the table. We ate in the dining room with the “good” dishes (those being the ones we got at our wedding that sit unused much of the time). And, we ate a lovely meal. You can’t tell in the picture, but it is in the shape of a heart. I used a wide heart cookie cutter to shape the dish, which held together nicely. Then I dotted the bowl with some wonderful balsamic date cream I bought in Spain. Along with a salad and dessert, we enjoyed a 3 course meal together.
Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Spring Vegetables (from Vegetarian Times)
- 2 cups dry Israeli couscous
- 4 tsp. canola oil
- 2 bulbs fennel, slivered, grated, or finely chopped (1 cup)
- 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts finely chopped (1/2 cup)
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped (2 Tbs.)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 4 plum tomatoes, chopped (1 cup)
- 2 0.25-g. pkg. saffron threads
- 2 cups baby arugula leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped, pitted oil-cured or kalamata olives
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish if desired
1. Prepare couscous according to package directions. Set aside.
2. Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, leek, and garlic, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
3. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute to deglaze pan. Add peas, and let wine reduce 1 minute more, then add broth. Add couscous, tomatoes, and saffron; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in arugula, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4. Spoon into bowls, then top with olives, olive oil, and basil. You can shape it with a cookie cutter, if you’d like a more elegant presentation.