Monday, December 7, 2009

Chestnut and fig couscous stuffing

I was agonising over the weekend what sort of stuffing to serve with roast guineafowl and remembered a dish I'd invented for veggies in my student cookbook Beyond Baked Beans Green. It worked perfectly and I think I might well do it with the Christmas goose. What I like about it is that it's much lighter than a conventional bread stuffing, especially if you don't actually use it to stuff the bird (which I suppose makes it technically no longer a stuffing). It also gets over the problem of what to serve any veggies in the party.

Serves 4-6 (obviously double it for a larger party)

3 tbsp sunflower or light olive oil
25g pinenuts
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely sliced
100g pre-prepared chestnuts (the French or Spanish ones in jars are best)
5-6 ready to eat figs
1 tsp garam masala or ground mixed spice
100g instant couscous
175ml hot vegetable stock made with 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder or half an organic vegetable stock cube
Salt (though go easy if the stock is salty)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat a casserole or large frying pan, add the oil and briefly fry the pinenuts until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen towel. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes over a low heat until beginning to brown. Meanwhile finely chop the chestnuts and the figs then add them to the vegetables and cook for a minute or two more. Sprinkle over the spice and stir again. Add the couscous, stir, then add the stock. Take the pan off the heat and leave for about 5 minutes for the couscous to absorb the liquid. Fork the couscous through, check the seasoning, adding salt if you think it needs it and stir in the reserved pinenuts and chopped parsley. (You can make this ahead and heat it through in a moderate oven with a little extra oil drizzled over the top.)

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