If you are a fan of food and cooking shows you’ve probably heard of couscous and risotto. These are in truth your more fancy forms of pasta and rice and are now available in easy to prepare mixes at most grocers.They make for great side dishes or can in themselves be used to create a complete meal.
Couscous is a pasta style dish believed to have its roots in African cuisine. Unlike Italian pastas (which Americans are most accustomed to), couscous is very fine ground taking on an appearance more similar to that of rice or grits than pasta.
Unless you are experienced at working with couscous, it can be difficult to prepare. Consequently, instant couscous is a good choice for most. It tastes very good and is easy to make. In about fifteen minutes, you can prepare a delicious couscous that can compliment any meal. Additionally, you can buy instant couscous in a variety of flavors such as mushroom, curry, lemon spinach, garlic and parmesan. I like to spruce up these dishes by adding some additional flavors. Some items to consider include tomatoes, green peppers, black olives, scallions or cilantro. For a simple dessert, stir in just a couple of tablespoons of coconut and evaporated milk to a plain or wheat couscous along with raisins, cinnamon and sugar to taste. In addition to dessert, by adding fruit and sugar couscous can make for a delicious breakfast similar to that of oatmeal or Cream of Wheat.
Another delicious side dish is that of Italian risotto. Similar to rice, this tasty grain was once available only at specialty grocers. Today it can be found in packaged/instant mixes requiring only twenty minutes or so to prepare. Several flavors are available including a butternut squash, shrimp, chicken, asparagus and mushroom. These risotto mixes can be made into a complete meal by simply adding your choice of meats, cheeses or vegetables. Other options include a cheesy risotto (made by adding an assortment of Italian cheeses to a plain risotto), broccoli, cheese and mushroom (add broccoli and cheddar to a mushroom mix) or a dessert risotto (add cinnamon baked apples, raisins or dried cranberries to mix). Risotto is also a great compliment to a steak, barbecue or lobster dinner.
There are many brands of instant couscous and risotto on the market. Try a few to find the taste and texture that most suits you.