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Friday, January 31, 2014

Seasonal Tastes: January 2014 - Couscous with Roasted Root Vegetables

One of my New Years Resolutions is to start a new monthly feature on the blog (and, again, I resolve to revive the last monthly feature I started, Inspiration Station).  Cooking with ingredients of the season just feels...genuine.  Each month I'll select one or two ingredients that are in season and highlight them in a dish.

January in New York means the growing season has been put to bed.  Apples, pears, and root vegetables are your best bet as the snow swoops in.  Let's go with root vegetables, shall we?

You don't hear the term "root vegetable" thrown around all that often, but don't let that trick you into thinking they are some sort of mystical and rare ingredients.  Basically, it's a root vegetable if the part you eat grows underground.  Examples include yams, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and radishes.  Now that you know you've been dealing with root vegetables ever since you dipped a carrot stick in ranch dressing, it doesn't seem like such a weird, foreign ingredient.  After researching root vegetables on Wikipedia and learning I was more familiar with them than I thought, I decided to stretch myself by cooking with those root vegetables I don't use so often.  I followed this recipe for couscous with roasted root vegetables very loosely.  I say loosely because when I started cooking I realized I had accidentally thrown away the lemon so I never made the lemon dijon dressing (just drizzled some olive oil instead).  I also didn't have red onion or za'atar because I don't really like red onion and I'm not sure where you even go to buy za'atar.  I also used parsnips and sweet potato as my root vegetables.  Even with those changes, the dish was still delicious.

The chickpeas were a little unnecessary, in my opinion, but if you're eating this as your main dish (it's great cold or room temp - i.e.: ideal for potlucks or work lunch) the chickpeas are a great source of protein.  The goat cheese and pepitas, however, definitely need to stay in.  The goat cheese balances out the sweet root vegetables and the pepitas add a nice crunch.

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