Sometimes you just need simple. And nothing is more simple in my mind than couscous. It cooks up in about 5 minutes. You can add almost anything to it and change it from a fun and friendly side to a main entrée in seconds. Its definitely a staple in my pantry…and probably should go on my emergency shelf.
So when I saw this white bean and couscous with tomato sauce in my copy of Better Homes and Gardens Dinner on a Dollar, I knew I had to give it a try. I will admit pine nuts asked for in the recipe can be pretty pricy but if you have a Smart and Final or other grocery store that offers bulk items, you can get a few tablespoons reasonably priced without having to leave a leg or arm on deposit. (I love pine nuts but my budget conscious shopper self often passes on them as they can be as much as 19.00 a pound! A great substitute is chopped walnuts.)
I’m not a feta fan at all. Its too vinegary for my palette. Too acidic. I discovered not that long ago that Cojita cheese is a great substitute. It has that same crumble to it and a wonderfully salty and creamy flavor to it. For this dish, its actually a perfect balance to the acidity of the tomatoes.
As I said, fast comes to mind with couscous and this dish definitely is. From start to finish, it took me 15, maybe 20 minutes. And cost wise, even with the pine nuts, it clocked in at less than $2.00 per serving for me.
1 can of diced tomatoes with oregano, basil and garlic (optional on the flavor seasonings)
1 1/4 cup of boiling water
1 cup of couscous
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can of cannellini beans or white kidney beans
1/2 cup Cojita cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons fresh minced basil
Putting It All Together:
1. I started by cooking my couscous. I added the cup of couscous to the 1 1/4 cups of boiling water. Add the salt and the pepper and mix. The keys is to cover it and just let it sit. For about 5 to 7 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set it aside.
2. While the couscous was “cooking”, I drained the tomatoes and beans and tossed them into a bowl.
3. I also chopped and minced the basil. Then I added it, the crumbled Cojita cheese and the pine nuts to the bowl. Lastly, I added the couscous to the bowl and mixed it all together. Serve!
As I said, super easy and a definite hit in my family! I also experimented and tried a version with kidney beans and white rice. It was just as big a hit in my family as the original. The only downside to the rice version is it does take longer to cook.