Israeli Couscous with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Preserved Lemon

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Jennifer Woods
I loved biting into the sweet tart bits of chopped preserved lemon and all the little round balls of couscous. This dish has so many great flavors and textures going on.

Lately, in this In Season/Meatless Monday series, we've taken a look at what I take home from Crooked Sky Farms each week and see what I've done with my CSA share, or part share. This week, I'm using roasted sweet potatoes, but you could use anything like butternut squash, carrots, or beets.

I love that I keep hearing about our desert's similarities to the deserts near the Mediterranean Sea. We are growing similar foods like citrus and dates, and while these foods don't feel particularly southwest, they fit right at home in recipes of places like Morocco.

While trying to throw together a last-minute, crowd-pleasing, do-it-all side to go with lemon herb grilled chicken, I found this Epicurious recipe. But I think there were a few too many steps. I made it more like a one-pot (plus roasting pan) dish.

I made my own preserved lemons using the lemons I had snagged from a friend's tree a little over a month ago. You could also find them at a Middle Eastern market or I've even seen them at Baratin, too.

Here's how I did it.

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Preserved Lemon

1 preserved lemon, chopped small, about quarter-inch dice (or zest and juice of one or two lemons)
1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups Israeli couscous
4 cups hot vegetable or chicken broth or deliciously salted water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick (or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins (Who has golden raisins lying around? I used regular raisins, or if you had any, chopped dates would be fantastic)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (omit if you used the ground cinnamon above)
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or use ½ and ½ chopped fresh parsely and mint, like I did)

Crank up your oven to 425, peel and chop your root vegetables (or winter squash) into about ¾ inch dice and throw them into your rimmed cookie sheet. Give them a stream of olive oil and a dusting of salt, toss with your hands and roast until tender and a little brown on the edges -- about 25 minutes.

While that's going on the oven, put a high sided pot on medium heat and toast your pine nuts and remove once they smell good, set nuts aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and throw in your chopped onion to soften and then the couscous to toast up (stirring occasionally) before adding the liquid.

Add the hot broth and cinnamon and turn heat up to high. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium low to simmer with the lid on for about 12 minutes. Taste some of the couscous to make sure it's done.

Once the couscous is cooked, you can pour into your favorite large serving bowl, along with the roasted vegetables, preserved lemon, toasted pine nuts, and raisins.

Wait until the ingredients have cooled down (or right before serving) to add the herbs, you don't want them wilting on you.

This had dinner guests chasing down every last little piece of couscous on their plate -- so delicious.

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