APRICOT AND PUMPKIN COUSCOUS
¼ cup sliced almonds
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 butternut squash or calabaza (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into ¾-inch dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (one 19-ounce can)
2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken broth
½ cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
Pinch of saffron or turmeric (optional)
1 ½ cups couscous
Toast the almonds in a 350-degree oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add the squash, tomato paste, lemon zest, chickpeas and broth, and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Stir in the apricots, cilantro and mint. Remove cinnamon stick. Taste for seasoning.
Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water to a boil with ½ teaspoon salt and the saffron. Put couscous in a heat-proof bowl; pour in boiling water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; let stand 5 minutes. Uncover; fluff with a fork. Serve couscous with squash and sauce. Top with toasted almonds.
Makes Makes 6 to 8 servings.
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