A while back, Sabrina and I were talking about when a recipe is really and truly yours. She pegged it at the moment when you can make substitutions, when you can change it freely without fearing that you won’t be making the right thing.
I think it’s when you make something and forget it was ever a “recipe” at all.
That’s this meal for me. I’ve been making it for practically as long as I’ve been cooking (e.g. not just heating up a Smart Ones and pretending I’d made dinner). The original version came from Real Simple, apparently in June 2006, and I know I have the ripped-from-the-magazine copy somewhere in my unwieldy collection, but I can’t remember the last time I looked at it. I just go.
This is a meal I could handle making when I was 24. It takes less than 10 minutes. It’s not winning any nutritional trophies, but it’s not the worst, either. It makes delicious leftovers and only seems to get better with a day or two in the fridge. It can be eaten hot or cold. And though I’ll go months between making it, I seem to always have the ingredients for it in the house.
Five years on, this one is definitely mine.
Couscous with Apricot Vinaigrette and Almonds
(Adapted from Real Simple)
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup water
2 green onions, thinly sliced
a little less than 1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. apricot preserves
1 tablespoon olive oil + more for dressing
1 tablespoon butter
a couple handfuls of slivered/sliced almonds
1. Stir the water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and butter together in a saucepan and bring to a boil
2. Dump in the couscous, stir until moist, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Whisk together the apricot preserves, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil (to taste). I usually use a pyrex measure for this and microwave it briefly to help the preserves get soft.
4. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Stir in the green onions and almonds.
5. Pour the dressing on top of everything and stir until coated. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
Makes 3-4 servings.