Eating for life: Skewers, couscous are quick, nutritious

06/23/2014 5:24 PM

06/23/2014 5:24 PM

Looking for a quick, nutritious meal on a hot summer night?

Fire up the grill — and steam a pot of couscous.

The Star’s North African-Spiced Beef Skewers With Couscous combines two low-fat cooking techniques. Pronounced KOOs-koos, couscous is a North African pasta staple. The tiny grains are steamed until fluffy and typically served on a communal platter alongside chunks of meat and vegetables.

Traditional couscous is made from refined wheat, but these days you can find high-fiber, whole-wheat couscous at large supermarkets and health-food stores. Bonus: It cooks in just 5 minutes.

Cooking tip: Select metal cooking skewers or soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes before cooking. If desired, skewer beef and vegetables onto separate skewers so you can easily adjust the cooking times and degree of doneness for each.

North African-Spiced Beef Skewers With Couscous

Makes 4 servings

5 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, divided

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon cumin, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 pound boneless beef sirloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 medium red onion, cut into 3/4 -inch wedges

1 (11-ounce) package whole-wheat couscous

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine 4 tablespoons minced parsley, vinegar, oil, garlic, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, salt and crushed red pepper.

Place beef cubes in a zip-top bag. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons parsley-vinegar mixture. Seal bag, shake to coat evenly and refrigerate 30 minutes. Cover and set remaining parsley-vinegar mixture aside.

Drain beef and discard marinade. Thread beef and vegetables onto 6 (12-inch) skewers. Arrange filled skewers in a shallow dish. Brush with remaining parsley-vinegar mixture, turning to coat evenly.

Preheat grill or allow coals to burn down to white ash.

Cook beef and vegetable skewers over medium-high direct heat in a covered grill, turning to cook evenly, about 15 to 18 minutes, or until beef is of medium doneness and vegetables are crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, heat 2 cups water to a boil in a covered saucepan over high heat. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and couscous. Cover, remove from heat and allow to stand 5 minutes.

Stir remaining 1 tablespoon parsley into couscous. Spoon couscous into a deep serving platter. Remove beef and vegetables from skewers and place over couscous.

Per serving (4 ounces cooked beef, about 1/2 cup vegetables, 1/2 cup couscous per serving): 590 calories (30 percent from fat), 19 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 72 milligrams cholesterol, 70 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 137 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.

Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

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