israeli couscous with roasted roots and chickpeas


Cold weather is all about simple comfort food. Even though the warmth of the stovetop and the oven isn't completely unwelcome while the weather outside is frightful, I still don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. But the complex flavors of each dish should make everyone think that I do. See how that works?

The absolute easiest way to get a winter meal together is through roasting. Roasting makes everything a little bit deeper, sweetens the flavor and highlights the chewiness of all those beautiful fall and winter vegetables. Paired with the right grains and spices, this base is on our dinner rotation every week.

For this recipe, you'll need:

4-5 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
4-6 smallish turnips, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups of pearled or Israeli couscous 
4 cups of water or vegetable stock
The juice of one lemon
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1 small onion, any color, finely chopped
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons za'atar spice
Freshly ground salt and pepper
A good amount of olive oil

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss your diced vegetables in olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin until evenly coated. On a shallow baking sheet, toss your chickpeas with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer both pans to the over to roast for about 30-35 minutes, tossing every few minutes to ensure nothing dries out. (Although, I happen to prefer the chickpeas when they get super crispy. If you're like me, leave them in for closer to 35-40 minutes for a crazy-addictive crunch.)

When your vegetables are about halfway done, cook your couscous according to the package. A pretty fast cooking grain, you'll need to give yourself about 10 to 15 minutes, to help time things in coordination with the veggies.

While the couscous is still warm, mix together the lemon juice, mustard and za'atar spice in a small bowl. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix that usually includes dried sumac, salt and sesame, though other varieties exist; for another great way to use this unique flavor, check out this spicy carrot soup recipe. Stir your chopped onion into the couscous, along with the roasted roots and chickpeas, now out of the oven. Pour your dressing over the top and stir until evenly coated, all in the couscous pot.

This simple meal works great hot or even cold and is great for take-to-work leftovers the next day. According to the original inspiration from Food52, you could even add a little crumbled cheese, which of course I can find no fault in whatsoever.