The Almost-as-Easy Way Out

This is not a sombrero.

This is not a sombrero.

It was a perfect night for takeout.

I’d had a very full day–morning in the office, followed by three rehearsals, each in a different town.  It was fun, but exhausting. I was tempted to call and ask what she might like me to pick up on the way home. But we had prepared for such a possibility. I’d grilled a skirt steak, some chicken sausages, and a pair of chicken breasts; there were plenty of things we could easily form into meals. After far too much time (and money) spent in restaurants during my summer show’s production week, we were not going to take the easy way out.

Speedy Semi-Moroccan Semi-Stew

Add 1 T oil to a non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Boil 2 cups water.

While the oil warms, do the chopping:
1/2 green pepper
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 tomato
1 pre-cooked chicken breast
A handful of salted peanuts
A handful of green beans

Obviously it would be easy–and maybe even prudent–to double all these quantities, but I’d grilled some vegetables on Sunday night to go with the sausages, and taken some thick slices out of a tomato for steak sandwiches; these  amounts were what was on hand.

Use 1 cup of the water to soak 2/3 cup whole-wheat couscous. (Adjust these quantities as necessary according to package directions.)

Use the other cup of water to reconstitute a handful of raisins and 4 or 5 roughly chopped dried apricots.

Sauté the onion and pepper, then add the tomato and beans.

Add the chicken, fruit, and 1/2 t Marrakesh spice blend. (It looked and smelled to me like chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and salt.)

When the chicken is warmed, add a handful of baby spinach, and half of the remaining fruit-soaking liquid.  When the spinach is wilted a bit and the liquid is reduced a little, remove the skillet from heat.

Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add a little butter if you’re feeling frisky. Pack the couscous into measuring cups, ramekins, or even cookie cutters, and turn out the  molded grain into the center of 2 shallow bowls.

Spoon semi-stew around the couscous. Top with the crushed peanuts. Spoon any remaining liquid over the couscous.

Serves 2, who will probably wish you’d doubled the quantities to have leftovers for lunch.

I’d walked in the door at 9:35 PM. Dinner was on the table at 10. Not the easy way out, perhaps, but the almost-as-easy. Probably the healthier, too.

She put down her spoon. “You did take a picture, didn’t you?”

I think that was her way of saying dinner was all right.

IMG_0083

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