This past weekend, when I was looking for something to serve with striped bass in a tomato, saffron and grappa sauce, I made a new couscous that Merrill and I had picked up at Union Marketin Brooklyn. Les Moulins Mahjoub is hand-rolled and sun-dried in Tunisia and comes in a spiffy jar. When we bought it, I remember thinking that we’d been seduced by packaging. But the couscous inside did not disappoint – in fact, it made me realize I’d never had really good couscous before. The individual beads are irregularly shaped and larger than most packaged couscous, and they remain firm after steaming. The best part is the couscous’s flavor, which is nutty, even a little flinty. The obvious comparison is to expensive dried pasta, which I like, but which I can’t always justify buying when I measure it against a great, reasonably-priced brand like de Cecco. Having cooked with Les Moulins Mahjoub, I can’t justify buying the cheap stuff. A 1.1-pound jar is $9 at Cube Marketplace.
In a mixing bowl, fold together the couscous, zucchini, shallot, basil and lemon zest. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the ricotta salata.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.