Couscous and ethics

A friend of mine with the exotic Irish name Gráinne (which is pronounced Grawn-ya, for anyone who might be wondering) recently told me she was going vegan. After years of not eating meat, she now feels she can’t justify “just” being vegetarian anymore. I think that is very brave of her. I also think she has gone insane.

I’d really miss eggs and dairy, and there’s so many things that contain a wee bit of those ingredients, and they’re out of the question, too. Ice cream. Chocolate. Most types of pizza. A life without carrot cake and its tasty, full-fat, sweet, cream cheese icing? I don’t think so. And think of living without leather jackets to make you look tough, woolly jumpers to keep you warm in winter, army boots to tread on a beer soaked festival terrain, and beer itself, which apparently contains some sort of gelatine. More than having to miss those products, though, it’s the hassle that would kill me. It’s having to REMEMBER all the time. Apparently lots of unexpected things have animal ingredients in them, such as shampoo, cigarettes, lipstick. Within a day I’d breach my vows at least 5 times without even realising it. I couldn’t do it, I really couldn’t.

So here’s a cheer for Gráinne! And a nice, tasty, filling recipe for couscous with vegetables. In case she ever has a hard time, in case her determination ever wavers. In those cases she can cook this and all shall be fine.

I prefer the ingredients listed here, but if you have some leftover veggies that you need to get rid off, those will probably do fine. About harissa: it’s a North African paste that looks like tomato purée, but it contains a load of spices and red chillies. African or Middle Eastern shops should sell it. Maybe supermarkets do too, I’m not sure. If you can’t find any, use tomato purée, garlic, crushed chillies, caraway seed, ground cumin and ground coriander.

These quantities should be enough to feed 2 people:
1 tbsp of harissa
1 tin of chickpeas
1 wee courgette
1 handful of green beans
couple of potatoes
tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red onion
wee bit of cinnamon
oil, salt, sugar (a vegan type such as unrefined brown sugar, if you want to be strict)

for the couscous:
some stock
1 tbsp olive oil
some ground coriander
some ground cumin
some crushed chillies
black and white pepper

Peel the potatoes, cut them into cubes and boil in salted water until they’re just going soft. Meanwhile, chop the red onion, heat some oil in a pan and chuck in the onion with the harissa. Cut the courgette into wee chunks and throw them in with the onion. Once both have gone a bit soft, add the tomatoes and a wee bit of water if you think it’s too dry. Take the ends off the green beans, break them in half or in thirds and add them to the sauce, with the chickpeas. Once the potatoes are soft enough, add those, too. Now add salt to taste, a wee bit of sugar and a wee bit of cinnamon. Leave the sauce to simmer on low fire for a while, without a lid if it’s still quite fluid, or else with a lid on. Stir occasionally.

As for the couscous, I’m never too sure about the quantities. The BBC suggests 200 gr of couscous wih 350 ml of stock, I always just guess. If you chuck some couscous into a bowl and you make sure all of it is covered with stock, but it’s not drowning, it’ll be fine too. Before you add the stock, mix in a little of all the spices (about a tsp) and a tbsp of olive oil. Once you’ve added the stock, cover the bowl with cling film. Leave it for about 5 mins, then use a fork to loosen it up a bit. Add a bit of stock if it’s still too dry.

If I had to eat this every day for the rest of my life I guess I could live with being vegan.

Harissa is usually quite spicy. The first time I fed this to my flatmate he almost died.


About La dittatrice

After years of being based in Glasgow, I've recently made a home for myself in Turin, Italy, for the time being, at least. This blog is my captain's log. Here I note down what I did, and what I ate. A story, then a recipe. That's how this here works. Updates on Wednesdays.
This entry was posted in Food, Vegan, Vegetarian. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Couscous and ethics

  1. Gráinne says:

    Yeeey! Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, I buggered off to Dundee for a couple of nights.

    Hey, you can get soya ice cream and raw chocolate with no milk added (I had a bar with some in it yesterdaym delicious and one of my five aday). There’s plether, but wool, I didn’t even think about wool. This will be hard. Don’t worry though, beer is fine! I think pretty much all German beer can only have 4 ingredients due to LAWS so Beck’s is vegan! And Beck’s is sold everywhere.

    Luckily I have awesome Dutch chicks giving me such recipes to make it easier :D

    I will definitely be making this for dinner tonight, I’ll let you know how it goes.


  2. Gráinne says:

    *it was delicious
    My typing is awful before I’ve had my coffee. And after.


    • Nae bother ;) I really do hope you’ll like it. Did you manage to find harissa? I’ll definitely try to publish more vegan stuff but I think it’ll be difficult!


      • Gráinne says:

        Wow, harissa does indeed have quite a kick! I managed to find some in Tesco :)

        That was delicious, Veerle! I changed some of the veg in it (i.e. added more cause I’m a big veggie face) but stuck to the recipe apart from that. Bravo! I made far too much so shall be eating it for days haha.

        I’ll cook anything vegan you make and if you do anything non-vegan I will try to do my own weird version.


  3. Pingback: La dittatrice della cucina

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