Some days I feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen whipping up a delicious vegan meal from scratch because it keeps my cooking skills active and it’s a great way for me to work out plot problems while occupying my mind with something else. Then there are those days where I want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, BUT I also want a meal that’s tasty and nutritious.
This was one of those days but the good news is that with a little bit of prep you can be in and out of the kitchen in a half hour. The first thing you want to do is prep. Clean, peel and chop all the vegetables you plan to put into the dish, for me it was marinated mushrooms, onion, carrots and potatoes. The onions were marinated in balsamic vinegar, rosemary, basil, garlic, salt and pepper FIRST, and set aside while I finished the chopping.
Because the mushrooms take some time to cook, you should get them going first, cooking until the water is all evaporated before adding the rest of the vegetables. Now I didn’t use oil in this dish but a tablespoon can be used after the mushrooms have been cooked properly. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try it without oil. Your heart will thank you.
The couscous is the easiest part of this meal, just boil water (2 to 1 ratio) and drop the couscous and remove from heat until the water is absorbed. Make this dish less dense by fluffing the grains with a fork before serving. Add a bit more nutrition by adding a 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric to the water.
The real star of this dish is the herb pesto that I whipped up and best of all it’s oil-free!
I used fresh basil, roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts and a handful of carrot greens for the pesto. Put all the ingredients into a food processor, add lemon juice and zest and seasoning. I didn’t use oil so I added water or acid to mix up the greens and the consistency came out perfectly. You might have to stir and mix it a few times while you do but it’s worth the extra minute or two it takes.
I like to add a few drops of chipotle Tabasco sauce and a pinch of cumin for a deeper, smokier flavor but test out different herbs & spices until you find a combination you love.
I don’t know if you noticed but I also added a can of butter beans, which I rinsed and added during the last few minutes of cooking, adjusting the seasoning one final time.
Layer the couscous and then the vegetables and add a spoon of pesto on top and you’ve got a meal that’s healthy, delicious and nutritious in under an hour.
And of course you need something to wash it down with, in this case a dark oatmeal stout.