I used to call it the curse of the teenage vegetarian. I’m sure you’ve known someone in this position. One kid or spouse is all about lamb chops and porterhouse steaks and the other(s) won’t eat anything with eyes except potatoes. Don’t go getting all huffy with me– I am not saying vegetarianism is a curse; rather, trying to feed a mixed clan is a royal pain in the neck. The problem often arrives in households with teenage girls who, like their friends, decide to eschew “meat”. (There are often varying definitions of meat.)
When my daughter decided to become a vegetarian who ate brisket and my son toyed with the idea of becoming a pastaterian, I did what any sanity-loving mother in my position would do. I simply cooked dinner and anyone who didn’t want it could make themselves a grilled cheese sandwich. I believe many teenage vegetarians will choose ease of food supply over their newly discovered disgust for consuming animal proteins. Also, I was making it relatively easy for them to explore their inner vegetarian– if this was something they truly believed in, I was sure they would be willing to make themselves a sandwich to keep it going.
On the other hand, as a parent I wanted to support their exploration and curiosity about all things healthful (or at least not harmful or illegal), so I would also make double-duty dishes that, like this, can serve as a side dish to a simple baked or grilled fish or chicken or as a main dish, thanks to the protein provided by chickpeas and edamame.
Serve sautéed spinach along side both, and to pump up the protein for the plant eater, add slivered almonds to the greens.
The couscous also makes a terrific portable lunch. Large lettuce leaves can serve as wraps to eat it burrito style. (Don’t assemble them in advance; they are unlikely to hold well unless you go to the trouble of steaming the leaves.)
Minted Couscous with Edamame, Olives and Apricots
Despite the long ingredients list, this dish comes together very quickly and easily.
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 cup couscous, preferably whole wheat
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/3 cup pitted Calamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 15-ounce can low sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup dried apricots (about 9) thinly sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Bring the orange juice and 3/4 cup of the broth to a boil; stir in the couscous and mint, cover and remove from heat.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of broth and edamame; cook for 2 minutes. Add the olives, chickpeas, apricots, vinegar and salt and cook another 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Use a fork to fluff the couscous and combine with the vegetable mixture.
Makes 4 servings
Nutritional analysis: 397 calories, 13 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 655 mg sodium