Summer vacation is the best. Nostalgic, relaxing, energizing and lazy, it evokes memories of warm windy drives, bbq scented evenings, and sweet grassy lounging with Coca-Cola slurpies. As I’ve gotten older I feel less of the ‘vacation’ part and more of the ‘bbq’ part, but I think that’s part of the transition; before kids, after youth. This Summer we spent a week with Eddie’s family at their lake cabin in Eastern Washington, guaranting days in the water with his sisters’ kids. Each year they shape more fully to their unique personalities and we become witnesses to their epic summer. It’s a good life.
In addition to lake drenched days, dinner is paramount. Each couple takes a day and prepares whatever they want for the family, eight adults and four children. It is this week that I’m thankful for my comfort and adept abilities in the kitchen because this family is about the food. This is a family who anticipates his mom’s perfectly sculpted rhubarb pie, waiting for her plant to sprout long stems of sour thick fruit.
This year we decided to make life easy on ourselves. Our friend Rianna made a marinated lemongrass chicken earlier in the summer and I made a mental note to snag the recipe. I picked up a bag of couscous from the bulk section, along with currents, sunflower seeds, shallot and lemons. We vowed to leave the vegetable dish in the hands of the produce stand Gods, seeing what looked fresh and ripe once we crossed the mountains. I didn’t have an exact sense of how I’d decorate the couscous dish, but the voice of my mother was in the background saying, “It has all good stuff in it, don’t worry.”
Eddie and I are very comfortable cooking together; it’s something that has evolved over time but is now seamless beneath a canopy of tunes streaming from the portable sound dock. For our meal this year, Eddie chose Prince on the Pandora station and the cooking began.
I highly recommend you try Grilled Lemongrass Ginger Chicken from the blog Shockingly Delicious. It’s… shockingly delicious.
1 cup couscous
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 – 1/4 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 carrots, grated
3 shallots, chopped
½ cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
½ cup dried currents
½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice and zest from 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons vinegar (white wine, apple cider or white balsamic)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
¾ teaspoon curry power
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1) Bring water to a boil; add butter, garlic and salt. Stir in couscous so it’s evenly submerged. Cover pot; take off heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Use a fork to sample the couscous; it should be a touch al’dente but not hard. Remove garlic, chop and set aside; fluff cooked couscous gently with a fork.
2) In a medium sized bowl, add chopped garlic, grated carrots, shallots, sunflower seeds, currents, cilantro and couscous. In a small bowl assemble dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over the mixture, stir to combine and taste. Adjust acidity with more lemon/lime/vinegar and salt and pepper as needed.
3) Let sit for 30 minutes but up to a day in advance. Serve at room temperature.