Welcome to my internal panic attack. You see, once you’ve spent time and money on a culinary education, people think you’re a “chef.” You feel like you’re expected to contribute more than a fruit salad to potluck get-togethers. Of course, this is probably all in my head. My family and friends would be perfectly welcoming if I showed up with some chopped watermelon and pineapple. But in my brain, I psych myself out. “They know I’m capable of something better! I have to make something! It’s gotta be good!”
Seriously, every single get-together that I attend where I’m requested to bring a dish, I go through a huge internal struggle. What will I make? Will everybody like it? Is it TOO fancy? Is it too simple? Does it fit the theme of the party? Oh, who cares if it does? What if people don’t know what coriander chutney is? (they didn’t).
I realize I’m making myself sound like the most OCD party guest ever. I mean, seriously, who thinks this much about what flavor of chicken wings they’ll bring to a football-watching party or something? It’s like my culinary education is a blessing and a curse. I’m cursed to over think potluck side dishes for the rest of my life.
Israeli couscous pilaf is my secret weapon. I take it to parties all the time, and people think I’m all fancy-pants (I am). But it’s not too fancy, because if any other guest is a bit leery of it, you just say “oh, it’s just little bits of pasta. Try it!” And as soon as people hear “pasta,” they stop listening to you babble and start shoveling it onto their plate. And then you’ve won. You’ve won the potluck.
Couscous is the ultimate blank canvas – you can spice it up with whatever flavor you want, and stir in any herbs, dried fruit, nuts or veggies you have around. Here, I made a curried couscous with chickpeas and Naturebox Cranberry Jubilee, which is a combination of dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, dried papaya, raisins, brazil nuts, and dried apples. Use whatever dried fruits and nuts you like best, and stir up your own version!
Curried Cranberry Couscous Pilaf
- 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup Naturebox Cranberry Jubilee
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- In medium saucepan, bring vegetable stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in couscous, curry powder and salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until couscous is tender. Drain off any remaining liquid.
- Add chickpeas, Cranberry Jubilee, and oil; toss to combine. Transfer to serving bowl; garnish with parsley.
I originally developed this recipe for the NatureBox blog.