Pumpkin & Cheese Couscous

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ImageCouscous, a coarsely ground form of quick cooking pasta made from semolina is a common ingredient used in middle eastern and African cooking. Although it doesn’t have too much flavour on it’s own couscous is pretty yum when combined with a good sauce. Keya took a little while to like the granular texture. Initial episodes of suspiciously eyeing the new texture (when she was about 9 mos) did happen. But I persisted and she finally loves it! Hurrah! Nutritionally – couscous is akin to pasta. It is quick to cook and saves you a LOT of time on crazy days. Also, babies who are just getting teeth, learn to appreciate the granular easy-to-gum texture.

(Although couscous itself cooks in 5 mins, the sauce needs a little time. But I optimize my time by making 3-4 servings at a time and freezing the extra in ice-cube trays. Freezing is so convenient but in general I avoid giving Keya anything that was frozen for more than 2 weeks… thats my personal quirk so I usually use up my frozen baby food within 10 days.)

Keya loves the pumpkin-cheese sauce that I make for her. Its basically a thick version of pumpkin soup with lots of added cheese. I begin by baking the pumpkin because that’s my favourite way of cooking it as you can extract max flavour without losing any nutrients in cooking water as you would by boiling – But feel free to steam it in a veggie steamer  if you own one and/ or are pressed for time.

Nutrition report: This meal is a good source of fiber(from couscous), is rich in vitamins A, B, C, E and beta- carotene. The cheese packs in a lot of flavour and is an excellent source of protein.

ImageIngredients:

– 1-1/2 cups peeled pumpkin cubes

– 4 cloves garlic with peel (if roasting)

OR  1 peeled clove if sauteing in pan

– 1 small onion, sliced thinly

– 5-6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

– 1 tsp dried oregano or basil (optional)

– 2 tsp Olive oil

– Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Toss the pumpkin and unpeeled garlic cloves in a teaspoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pumpkin and garlic onto the baking tray and bake @ 200deg C for 30mins. Cool.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan. Add the sliced onion and saute till soft and slightly golden brown. If you’re steaming the pumpkin instead of baking it with the garlic – add 1 clove of peeled sliced to the pan along with the onion. Allow the contents of the pan to cool.

3.  Place the cooled roasted (or steamed) pumpkin cubes in a blender or food processor along with the roasted(or sauteed) garlic and sauteed onions. Add a little water (about 1/4 cup) and puree everything till nice and smooth.

4.  Return the pureed mixture to the previously used non-stick pan. Add the dried herbs at this point and bring the mix up to a gentle simmer. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese.

5.  To cook couscous – place 2-3 tbsp of couscous in a bowl (to make a single serving). Pour 1/3rd cup of very hot water (2 times the qty. of couscous) over the couscous and cover with a lid. Set aside for 5 mins allowing the couscous to soften. Uncover and fluff it up using a fork.

6. Serve the couscous mixed with the pumpkin sauce to make a hearty- healthy meal. Sprinkle some extra grated Parmesan on top if you please 🙂

Yummy yum yum!!

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