Skip the white rice, the brown rice and certainly the quick-cooking rice. There are bushels of other grain options to try, with varying nutrients and health benefits. Some you’ve likely tried before, like quinoa, or maybe barley.
But that’s just the beginning of what’s available. Pick one new grain that’s found on the shelves of your local grocery store and change things up for your dinner menu. The beauty of these grains is that they can be substituted into pretty much any of the recipes, adjusting the volume of liquid and cooking time accordingly. Think of it as a healthy version of a blank canvas.
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ pound bacon, diced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
6 ounces couscous
3 cups chicken stock
1 15-ounce can chick peas
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon from pan to drain on paper towels.
Reduce fat in pan to 2 tablespoons. Add shallots, serrano pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, but not browned. Add cumin and garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the squash and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the couscous and broth, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed and the squash is tender. Add the chickpeas and bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and freshen with lemon juice. Let stand for 5 minutes, stir in cilantro, then serve.
Serving twist: Halve and seed acorn squash, brush with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender. Mound couscous in the baked squash.