Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Couscous with pesto, fried eggplants and mozzarella

Different textures for this fantastic Mediterranean dish!
Couscous is widely used in Sicily, usually served with seafood. It comes from the Arab domination and now is more and more common to eat cold salads made with it.
This particular recipes includes also the very aromatic smell of Genovese pesto from the North West of Italy, and mozzarella di bufala (buffalo cheese) from Campania (Naples area). Italy at its best!
Try to get the right ingredients, because it is so easy to make that the flavour is given by each smell and texture
You can prepare it to be eaten immediately, or you can divide the preparation into two steps and add the fresh ingredients at the end.
You know I like to make portions, but you can keep it all together and garnish the couscous with the vegetables and cheese spreading the topping on it. 

Ingredients for 4

300 grs.  instant couscous (you can find it in many grocery stores)
4 big tablespoons of Genoese pesto (fresh in deli shops and also in glass jars)
Chicken stock or water (follow the quantities on the couscous box)
Pine nuts to garnish
8 basil leaves 
extra virgin olive oil
1 long eggplant
1 cup all purposes flour
Vegetable frying oil
150/200 grs mozzarella di bufala campana (if possible) or burrata (a fresh cheese from Apulia)
Toasted pine nuts (for decoration)

How to:

1) Wash the eggplant and cut it into small pieces about 2/3 inch; put them in  a colander with some salt and let them drain for 1 to 4 hrs.

2) Prepare the couscous following the instruction on the box, if available use stock instead of water for a better taste. You will need also some salt and some extra virgin olive oil.

3) When ready (usually 3 minutes after your adding the hot liquid) add the pesto and mix well with a fork. The grains must be detached and if you taste it (please do) it must be soft and the taste should be already very good. Also, the pest should be Season with a little bit salt and extra virgin olive oil if necessary.

4) If you are making portions , - and in this case you can also freeze your couscous - grease 4 oven safe containers with extra virgin olive oil and put the couscous inside them pressing it very well. Now, if you want to finish the dish later or freeze it, cover with cling film and refrigerate it.

5) Now the second part of the dish. About 20 minutes before serving prepare the frying pan with the oil and warm up your oven.
Put the couscous in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

6) In the meanwhile drain the mozzarella and cut it into small pieces.

7) Dry the eggplant pieces with a clean cloth and quickly pass them in the flour and fry them for about 12 minutes until crouch and golden. Drain and salt if necessary to taste.

8) In a small food processor, mix well the oil with the basil leaves until the oil becomes green but not too creamy.

8) Put the ingredients together: overthrow the couscous in a dish, garnish with some mozzarella, then the fried eggplant, then the pine nuts and with a tea spoon let some drops of the basil olive oil drop on each plate.

Enjoy while the eggplants are still warm!

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