I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through the year, when it still feels like it just started.
On the other hand, it does feel good to be inching towards warmer days, and May is certainly an exciting month for that.
The days get sunnier, patios reopen, flowers bloom, cruise ships start coming in, and the long days of summer seem more and more inevitable.
I realise that I’ve never really gotten into spring produce; there aren’t a lot of dishes on here celebrating asparagus, rhubarb, peas, artichokes, etc.
Perhaps it’s because of spring’s transitional nature, because I find myself looking forward to the succulent fruits and vegetables of summer instead.
With that in mind, I make an effort to discover in-season vegetables that I’d normally overlook, like this simple morel and asparagus salad I want to try before the season is over.
A friend shared her CSA box full of spring produce last week; we made a beautiful roasted veggies salad and still had some asparagus and fava beans leftover.
I threw the beans and asparagus in this satisfying sauté of pearl couscous and chickpeas with vegetables.
I love couscous with chickpeas, and I particularly love the texture of nutty chickpeas and tender couscous together in this dish, – its hearty and toothsome.
The couscous makes a perfect base and pairs well the chickpeas, it’s all sautéed in a light sauce with fragrant fennel seeds, garlic and onions, tomatoes, lots of bell peppers, with the asparagus, which soaks up the flavour of the sauce, and rich fava beans.
- 1 cup pearl couscous (Israeli couscous)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water + plus 1/4 cup or more
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (omit if using salted vegetable broth)
- 1 cup shelled fava beans (from about 1 pound pods)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground fennel seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow bell pepper (or 4 -5 smaller ones), cut into strips
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 6 – 8 spears large spears asparagus, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-ounce can chickpeas)
- Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a medium pan or skillet
- Add couscous and toast, stirring occasionally until lightly golden, about 2 – 3 minutes
- Add vegetable broth (or water) and salt and bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed
- Remove from heat and let the couscous sit covered for a couple of minutes, then fluff with a fork and set aside
- Cook (blanch) fava beans in a pot of boiling salt water for about 3 minutes
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer beans to a bowl of ice water to halt cooking
- Use the tip of a knife to make a small slit and peel/pop and the outer layer off the beans, and set aside
- In a large pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat
- Add fennel seeds, garlic and onions and cook until onions become translucent, about 2 -3 minutes
- Add bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, and sauté for another 2 minutes,
- Toss in asparagus and fava beans, sauté for about 3 -4 minutes or until asparagus becomes tender and beans are cooked through
- Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper and salt to taste
- Add chickpeas and couscous, toss to mix and cook covered for another 2 -3 minutes, stirring once or twice, until warmed through
- Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired
- Serve topped with your favourite chopped nuts and/or dried fruit
- Choose fava beans pods that are firm and fresh looking
- Couscous can be cooked in a rice cooker, per machine’s directions
- If using canned chickpeas, you may have to cook them a little longer to warm them up and use a little bit more vegetable broth