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The Food Processor

How to Make a Tasty, Low-Calorie Vegetable Stew With Couscous

June 09, 1988|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Creating an exotically spiced, low-calorie vegetable stew seemed like a good idea for the Food Processor diet. To add interest and substance to the vegetables, I added steamed couscous, the Moroccan wheat pasta. The combination adds up to 283 calories per serving and is surprisingly delicious.

The food processor makes quick work out of preparing nine of the 11 vegetables that flavor and color the stew. Each vegetable is processed separately, but several vegetables--including acorn squash, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms--are sliced with the medium (4-millimeter) slicing disc.

To use the medium slicer effectively, trim the vegetables so that they rest squarely between the disc and the bottom of the pusher, which most often means cutting the ends blunt, or straight across.

The texture of each vegetable dictates the amount of pressure used for slicing--soft foods like bell peppers require a gentle push, whereas firm zucchini and acorn squash are always sliced with a firm (but not a hard) push.

If desired, the vegetable stew can be made in advance, cooled and refrigerated overnight. Since vegetables are very well cooked in the liquid, this reheats beautifully in the original pot or in the microwave.

Once the garlic and onions that flavor the couscous are gently cooked, they can be set aside until shortly before serving time. Because the couscous is precooked, it takes only 15 minutes from stove top to table.

VEGETABLE COUSCOUS

1/4 cup firmly packed stemmed parsley leaves

2 medium cloves garlic

1/2 pound (2 medium) tomatoes, cored and quartered

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions

1 small acorn squash (1/2 pound) rinsed, halved and pitted

2 large carrots, peeled

2 medium celery stalks

3 1/2 cups low-salt chicken stock

1 medium green pepper, rinsed, cored and halved

1 medium sweet red pepper, rinsed, cored and halved

1 medium zucchini, rinsed and trimmed

1 medium yellow squash, rinsed and trimmed

1/2 pound mushrooms

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Couscous

1 tablespoon snipped chives

Insert metal blade in dry food processor. Add parsley and process to mince. Set aside for garnish.

Mince garlic by adding to machine with motor running. Coarsely chop tomatoes with 1/2-second pulses. Heat oil in 4-quart soup kettle. Add garlic and tomato and stir over low heat 3 minutes. Set aside.

Change to medium slicing disc. Slice onions with gentle push, add to kettle and stir over low heat until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Slice acorn squash upright with firm push. Add slices to kettle.

Cut carrot and celery by hand into 1/2-inch chunks and add to kettle with chicken stock. Cover and simmer 25 minutes.

Halve green and red peppers lengthwise, insert upright in food chute and slice with gentle push. Slice zucchini and yellow squash into rounds with moderate push and add to kettle. Slice mushrooms with gentle push and add to kettle with thyme, pepper and turmeric.

Simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until vegetables are completely tender and mixture is stewlike. Adjust seasoning with pepper.

Mound couscous on large platter or divide between bowls. Top with vegetables and sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and chives. Makes 6 servings.

Couscous

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1 medium onion, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups dry instant couscous

Insert metal blade in dry processor. Mince garlic by adding to machine with motor running. Add onion and chop with 1-second pulses. Transfer to large saucepan with olive oil and cook over low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock and salt and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and stir in couscous. Heat to simmering, cover tightly and set aside off heat 15 minutes.

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