Baked Couscous with Spinach and Pine Nuts – A Potluck Standby
Tonight, I’m heading to a pre-Thanksgiving potluck. I offered to cook whatever was needed, except for providing the meat dishes, as those are not that easy to transport. Vegetable dishes were, what I was told, most in demand. So, I decided to pull an old favorite out of my recipe card file – Baked Couscous with Spinach and Pine Nuts – which came to me from a clipping in The Washington Post, but is from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin. (This year, in addition to reworking the recipes in my mother’s card file, I also thought it would be good to tackle my own.)
My usual M.O. has generally been to opt for bringing dessert to these gatherings, as I have a no-fail, crowd-pleaser one that I save for the holidays (See last year’s Thanksgiving post). I’m a little bit sad that I’m not making that this year, but I might save that pie for our family holiday get-together. One year, when I was working overseas and participated in an enormous potluck Turkey Day meal/party, a friend and I joined forces and made about fourpies (two of the ones I made last year and two apple, if I remember correctly), and I managed to pull off preparing this same vegetarian dish as well.
This recipe isn’t just for the holidays, it is easy enough to make and goes far enough that it would be a good, tasty weeknight dinner option as well. I’ve paired it with grilled lemon-garlic-olive oil marinaded chicken to round it out and also served it at a dinner party, starting off with Middle Eastern dips and pitas. It is even flexible enough to be prepared as a vegan dish – just substitute your favorite non-dairy cheese alternative. I just used some leftover parmesan and pecorino that I had in the fridge, which worked just fine.
On top of everything else, the colors in this dish are bright and vibrant, and it will stand out at any potluck table. Oh, and did I mention that the leftovers are great to bring to work as well, if there are any, that is? Almost every time I’ve made it, there’s nothing but a few crumbles of couscous left at the bottom of the tray!