Back when I was just a wee little laddy, I was invited to play soccer in Amsterdam as part of some sort of world wide tournament. Since it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, my dad scraped some money together so my mother, grandmother and I could go and see the world through the lens of a pair of soccer cleats. During that trip I experienced many things: I met my first prostitute (by met I mean I saw one through a glass window as one of my teammates went in and ordered a number two), witnessed a gay marriage, saw some weed dispensed in a cafe like it was a latte and had my first pat down by a military man holding a huge gun. But the one thing about the trip that stands out to me the most is my back alley pasta dealings with a shady, shady character.
I met the man after one of my soccer games. He did the whole suspicious get my attention thing and I, thinking I was hot shit, assumed he was some college recruiter who wanted me to go to his school. I jogged over to him and he said "Kid, come with me into this alley." I followed him and as soon as we rounded the corner he asked "Do you want to buy some pasta?" He opened his jacket and I saw something that didn't resemble pasta in the least. It was a bag full of tiny little balls. I now know that pasta to be couscous but at the time I was none the wiser. "No, I'm cool. We eat differently in 'Murica." I sprinted back to join my team.
You are probably wondering why this pasta exchange is such a big deal? One, I thought this guy was so full of shit offering me little balls and calling them pasta. For years I said to anyone that would listen that the Dutch have no clue what pasta is. Two, years later I realized that the man who tried to sell me that bag was none other than Mr. Couscous himself. Seems that his shady couscous selling was just the beginning. It eventually led to a life full of possession of false documents, money laundering, assault and attempted murder.
Moral of the story: mothers, don't let your kids grow up to be couscous salesmen. That's bad, bad news.
Couscous, Cauliflower and Toasted Almonds
-1 cup uncooked couscous
-1 head of cauliflower, finely chopped
-1 shallot, minced
-1/2 cup of almonds (whole or sliced or slivered)
-2 tsp. smoked paprika
-salt and pepper (to taste)
-1 1/2 cups + veggie broth
1. Dump a tiny bit of veggie broth into a large bottomed pot (you can use oil if you aren't on a strict diet like my wife is). Pour in the almonds. Toast until the almonds become fragrant. Set aside.
2. Pour in a little more veggie broth. Add the shallot and saute for two minutes. Add the cauliflower. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and two teaspoons of smoked paprika overtop. Stir and cook for ten minutes.
3. Stir in the couscous. Continue stirring for another minute or two after you have added all the couscous.
4. Pour in the 1 1/2 cups of veggie stock. Swish it around until all the couscous have found their way into the stock. Put a lid on the pot and bring the stock to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer that baby. Cook the couscous, without messing with it, for five minutes.
5. If your almonds aren't sliced or slivered, go ahead and cut them up now. Once the couscous is done cooking add the almonds to the couscous and stir that pot. Spoon the mixture into bowls, sprinkle some fresh parsley overtop, put the bowl onto your tv tray and turn on a gangster movie while phoning your mom and telling her you are thinking of getting into the couscous selling business.