This week we have a wonderful dish that is great for summer because it is blends warmth of a bed of couscous and rich colors with the cool touch of flavorful yogurt sauce. The easiest way to achieve a well balanced and nutrient rich dish is to include a diverse array of colors with real food. Each vegetable carries the perfect balance of nutrients and your body's chemistry knows exactly how to break the nutrients down in the most efficient manner possible, adjusting to what your greatest needs are at any given moment.
The problem with trying to calculate the perfect balance of essential nutrients (vitamins, proteins, amino acids etc) is that it is simply not practical at all. The supplement industry thrives off our ignorance about how the body really works. We mostly choose food through the five primary senses, not some internal alarm system that indicates which foods have the perfect composition for my body's chemistry at any particular moment.
Multi-vitamins and popular protein shakes are being misused and abused. Instead of eating more real food, people are masking their bad habits turning to these supplements. Turns out that the best food science is left to your own body, which has millions of years of know-how to back up it's internal chemistry. Thankfully, it's in our collective unconscious, so we don't have to be entrusted with the responsibility of cracking the chemistry code every time we eat. I recommend reading The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health, by T. Colin Campbell, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and his son Thomas M. Campbell II, a physician.
2 bell peppers (any color), stemmed, seeded and sliced lengthwise.
1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
5 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
10 ounces of couscous
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted if desired
Heat a grill pan over high heat. First add some olive oil to a cast iron skillet (or pan) and cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for about 6-8 minutes, until most of the moisture has evaporated and their color is dark. Toss in the bell peppers and squash and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, herbs, more olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and cumin seed in a large bowl. Brush the onion rounds with olive oil and season lightly with salt. Brush the grill pan with olive oil, then grill the bell pepper mixture and onion rounds (in batches if needed), turning, until tender and marked, about 10 minutes. Peel the garlic.
Meanwhile, prepare the couscous. To make the sauce pulse the garlic, two pieces of grilled bell pepper and the yogurt in a blender or mini food processor until smooth. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Toss the remaining grilled bell pepper with the squash, mushrooms, herbs and onion in a large bowl; season with salt. Fluff the couscous with a fork and divide among bowls. Top with the vegetables and almonds and serve with the yogurt sauce.
Recipe inspired by this Food Network recipe.