Surprise guests coming over and you’re in a pinch to create something elegant and quick? This was my case the other day when my friend Sambo came over to help me replace my lightbulbs and fix my toilet seat. He’s one of my friends from Instagram and he had come over a long time ago to make me a Brazilian stroganoff and I was here to return the favour.
Of course, when people come over, I see it as an excellent opportunity to recipe test. I had the main ready but needed something on the side to use up my Italian flat leaf parsley stems. With just a few ingredients on-hand, I formed these delicious couscous cakes in no time.
Seriously – four ingredients! Whole what couscous, an egg, parsley stems, and lemon zest. It is quite a plain dish so an accompanying sauce that packs a punch is absolutely necessary. That, or cooking the couscous in boiling hot broth instead of water will give it some much-needed flavour. I went with a simple drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise but a garlic or herbed aioli would work fabulously here.
This makes for a great appetizer or carbohydrate for accompanying meats or fish. It doesn’t take a lot of time but getting these babies out of your ¼ cup mold may be tricky! Be sure to grease, grease, grease to get those cakes out nice ‘n easy.
I ended up baking this batch which is a tad bit healthier and also I was nervous that the cakes would crumble if I pan-fried them. When baking them, I still ended with a beautiful crust on the top and bottom – and that is exactly what you want.
They’re kind of addictive so beware. You’ve been warned!
COUSCOUS CAKES – makes 9 small cakes; adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, stems only, finely chopped
1 free-range egg
1 lemon, zest only
salt + pepper, generous amount
Japanese kewpie mayonnaise, to serve
Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or non-stick surface. Spray generously with vegetable oil. Set aside.
Place the couscous in a bowl and pour just enough hot water over top to cover it. Cover the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover, and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
Once the couscous has cooled down, add the egg, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper and mix until well-combined. Fill a greased ¼ cup to measure and mould the couscous cake. Invert onto the baking sheet until all of the mixture is used up. Sprinkle each cake with additional salt and pepper and spray the cakes generously with more vegetable oil.
Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the tops brown and are crispy. Serve immediately with a drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise and a few sprigs of parsley for garnish.