We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Save your mismatched dinner for another time. These two dishes were destined to be eaten together.
Every cook is familiar with a mismatched dinner. You know the one. It's leftover night and your plate is composed of half a bean burrito, a little Asian cucumber salad, some kind of kugel, and a whole lot of confusion.
That's not to say we don't love variety. It's just that sometimes -- especially on Mondays -- we've got to try to keep it all together, if only for the sake of appearances. This vegetarian dinner, which will take you less 30 minutes to make, consists of two salty-sweet dishes that were destined to be eaten together. If you don't believe us, just take a look at the grocery list. Common ingredients between dishes means a less lengthy, less expensive shopping list and a meal that will leave you more satisfied than confused.
1 1/2 pounds carrots
1 fennel bulb
1 cup Israeli couscous
Carton of orange juice
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
12 salty, pitted green marinated olives
1 sweet yellow onion
Chances are, you already have olive oil, honey, butter, salt, black pepper in your kitchen. If not, pick those up, too.
1. Chop the carrots into sticks. Trim and slice the fennel bulb. Save 2 tablespoons of the fronds for a garnish.
2. Toast the couscous with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 1 3/4 cups of orange juice, bring to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Melt 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of butter, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add carrots, fennel, strips of orange zest, and crushed fennel seeds. Sauté until fennel starts to soften, then add 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup orange juice, salt, and pepper. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. While couscous and carrots are cooking, chop and combine olives and 2 tablespoons of onion. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil and black pepper to taste.
5. Uncover the carrots and fennel, raise heat to high, and cook until liquid has evaporated. Fluff the couscous and stir in the olive-onion mixture. Once the carrots and fennel are soft and golden-brown (6 to 7 minutes), remove from heat, discard the orange zest, and sprinkle with fennel fronds.
6. Serve the braised vegetables on a bed of couscous. Now that's elegant.
Photos by James Ransom