I love when people come to visit. Because neither M nor I am from California, we get plenty of out of town visitors each year. It’s always so much fun because I get to act like a goofy tourist and do all the fun San Diego things I normally wouldn’t do on my own. Most of our family and friends come from areas of the country or world that are rather remote in terms of access to different food cultures. My family in Indiana is just now beginning to experience sushi when I fell in love with it over 10 years ago. Likewise, for M’s family, you won’t find a lot of Vietnamese or Moroccan cuisine in Austria.
Now I won’t claim San Diego has quite the diversity of New York or San Francisco but there are a few little gems in “America’s Finest City” that speak to the diversity of the food culture here. This is the place where I learned to appreciate Pho and well-made spring rolls, Korean BBQ, Lebanese, Moroccan, Filipino and even good Italian fare. Each time we have a visitor we take them to one of these unique eateries so they can experience something different and wonderful. One of our favorite places to go is this lovely little family-owned Ethiopian restaurant called Muzita. Everyone loves sharing a big plate, and digging in with their hands, sans utensils.
Abyssinian cuisine uses an interesting combination of spices, often rich and spicy. One of the main seasoning blends is called Berbere and is a mixture of spices that usually includes chili pepper, garlic, basil, ginger, rue, fenugreek, ajwain and nigella. Now these aren’t common spices for most of us to have in our kitchen and I wasn’t about to go buy whole jars of nigella and ajwain to make my own so when I found Berbere seasoning at Penzey’s Spices I knew I had to have it!
I’m always looking for things to add some pizzazz to couscous or quinoa and a touch of this Berbere seasoning does the trick. It adds a distinctive spiciness and heat yet is familiar enough that most everyone will enjoy it. Pair it with grilled lamb, sausage, chicken or vegetables and bring a little of the exotic to your dinner table.
Berbere Spiced Couscous
Servings: 6 • Size: ½ cup • Weight Watcher Points+: 4
Calories: 180 • Fat: 2g • Carbs: 38g • Fiber: 2.5 • Protein: 5g
Sugars: 2g • Sodium: 40g • Cholesterol: 0mg
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon Berbere seasoning
- 1 ½ cups couscous
- 12 fresh basil leaves
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the tomatoes and sauté, stirring occasionally until blistered, about 3 minutes.
Carefully pour in the water and stir in the Berbere seasoning. Turn heat to high. When water reaches a boil, stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll together lengthwise. Cut the basil into chiffonade by cutting into the basil roll crosswise. Add half the basil to the couscous and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining basil.