Market Meals – Sweet Potato and Apple Couscous
Market Meals: Sweet Potato and Apple Couscous – Blog by Summer Miller
A Fall Dish for a Warm Day
My daughter trailed behind, alongside and crisscrossed in front of me as we walked the streets of the Omaha Farmers Market searching for our favorite fall flavors. Tyler from Botna Burrow Farm handed me a beautiful butternut squash, and out of sheer curiosity I picked up an umber colored sweet meat pumpkin. My intention was to make a squash-inspired stew, but it was still morning and already warm. My daughter selected some small gourds from another stand nearby, while I tried to think of a recipe that wouldn’t involve turning on the oven.
We walked to the opposite end of the market to visit with Gordon Miller of Grandview Farm. All summer Gordon was my main supplier of cantaloupes and onions. I must have purchased 10-12 melons from him and each one was perfectly sweet. Sadly, my summer staples were gone, but luckily they were replaced with the boxes of red-skinned sweet potatoes. The seasons have indeed shifted, and I was delighted to see these vitamin A powerhouses ready for the taking. I immediatly scooped up a few of the hefty potatoes and exchanged pleasantries with Gordon before finishing the rest of my shopping.
Over the years, I’ve had many people, including my own husband; express their disdain for sweet potatoes. Typically their only experience with the orange-fleshed tuber occurred during Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house where she smothered it in brown sugar and marshmallows. I have never appreciated sweet potatoes as dessert. I’m a savory potato person, and after a bit of convincing my family eventually realized they don’t hate sweet potatoes either, they just hate sweet potatoes swimming in sugar.
As my bags became heavy with the offerings of fall, my mind switched from stew to a lighter lunch dish or dinnertime side that would still work in warm weather, while preparing me for the cozy comfort food to come. A quick stop at Small’s Fruit Farm for apples rounded out our shopping for the morning. I rested my sacks full of heavy fall staples on a bench. My daughter did what little girls do and ran to the playground, while i daydreamed about gratitude, comfort food and couscous.
Recipe: Sweet Potato and Apple Couscous
You only need one pan and one plate to make this dish. It’s a great side, or simple lunch, as pearl couscous is really pasta. It pairs well with pork or chicken.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large gala apple, unpeeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 small yellow onion, small dice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup pearl couscous
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Chives for garnish (optional)
In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Once foam subsides add sweet potato and salt. you want to caramelize the potato so let it be for about 2 minutes. Once browned on one side do your best to flip the potato to sear the other side and cook about 1-2 minutes more. It doesn’t have to be perfect; you are making dinner, not building a spaceship. You want the potatoes to hold their shape, and end up seared on a couple of sides. Remove the potatoes to a plate.
In the same pan, add the apple and honey. Stir to coat. Cook for about four minutes. You want them to absorb the flavors of the pan, and soften just a bit. When finished remove the apple from the pan and add to the plate with the potato.
Add onion, rosemary and remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter to pan. Saute the onion in the butter until softened or browned. When the pan appears dry add the vinegar. Scrape up the bottom of the pan. After the onion has developed some nice color, about 2-3 minutes, and the vinegar has been absorbed remove the onions from the pan and add them to the plate with the potato and apple.
Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken stock, couscous and thyme to the pan. Stir and cover. It should take about 8 minutes for the couscous to absorb most, but not all of the broth. You want the couscous to be tender, and a bit broth. Remove the lid, add the vegetables back to the pan to warm through. Add salt to taste, a little pepper if it sounds good to you, and garnish with minced fresh chives.
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