Product: Molina di Nicoli Gluten Free Couscous – $3.00+
There was a time…back before I was diagnosed as a Celiac…when I used to make numerous dishes with a grain known as couscous. But, as couscous is made from the semolina of hard wheat…so any couscous dish I started to ignore or substitute quinoa. It worked…but it wasn’t the same.
You cannot imagine my excitement when I opened up this month’s Cuisine Cube and found a box of Molino di Nicoli Gluten Free Couscous. I was beyond thrilled. Seriously, I might have done a happy dance in my office. Okay…I did do a happy dance. And with that being said, I was already making plans in my head to recreate some of my favorite couscous dishes with this little box. My roommate immediately said, “BREAKFAST COUSCOUS!” Which, is definitely going to happen. But…it just so happened that I ended up making a salad first with this product.
It was this month’s issue of Vegetarian Times, highlighting hot and cold salads. And the one that really, really caught her attention was one of Grilled Eggplant with Couscous and Greek Yogurt Dressing. We looked over the ingredients and they all seemed within reason to pick up at the local farmer’s market (as none of the ingredients were in the CSA bin this week), so I made a pact…if we could find the ingredients, I would cook up the dish. Because now…I could absolutely use couscous in a dish that asked for it.
The shopping was a success and last night, I found myself prepping most of the ingredients for our dinner tonight. I cooked up the couscous, seeded the pomegranate, diced the cucumbers, chopped the green onion, and chopped the mint leaves. I blended together the yogurt dressing ingredients, after a quick run to the store for the actual yogurt itself. It was the one ingredient we forgot about. HA! Not bad.
I have to say…the couscous is easy enough to cook. I actually didn’t follow the ingredients on the box. I went off the instructions in Vegetarian Times for the cooking of the whole-wheat couscous they used in the original recipe. So, instead of 2/3 cup of couscous with 2/3 cup of boiling water, I used the 2/3 cup of couscous and 1 cup of boiling water, letting it cook for 5 minutes. Usually the said amount of boiling water and the same ratio of couscous would sit for 2 minutes, then the box says to add oil or butter and cook for 3 more minutes over a slow flame. The way I did it worked just as well, and when the 5 minutes was up, I emptied the pan of couscous into a bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Then I added the pomegranate seeds and the remaining ingredients, seasoning with olive oil and white wine vinegar. I let it chill overnight in the fridge.
After work today, my roomie and I returned home and I set out to grill the eggplant and piece the dish together. That’s what I did. I plated the couscous salad, then topped it with the grilled eggplant, gave a drizzle of the Greek yogurt dressing and topped it off with a few more pomegranate seeds. It looked amazing. And it tasted just as good!
Now, my roommate said her least favorite part of the dish was the couscous, but to me, it was one of the highlights. Maybe it was because I haven’t had it in a long time. But I did nothing special to season this couscous, as I used to hit up the regular couscous with cayenne while it steamed. I left this one plain, as I was adding enough flavors via the fresh ingredients and the oil and vinegar…and a touch of salt to season. I thought the texture was clearly different. This was a lighter, smoother, not as gritty couscous, but it was the perfect ingredient for this dish. In fact, I can’t wait to try it in my “Breakfast Couscous” later on this week.
The grains of the Molino di Nicoli Gluten Free Couscous were finer and smoother than regular couscous. However, this is not to say that it was mush. Anything but that. In fact, the grains were still very noticeable on the palate and tongue. I found that it really blended well with all the fresh vegetables and ingredients that were placed on top of it. It was perfection…quinoa wouldn’t have been the same. The couscous was perfect. And it tasted brilliant.
I was beyond impressed!
So, I bet you’re wondering what a gluten-free couscous is made from. Simple. One ingredient is all that is listed on Molino di Nicoli’s Web site – corn flour. Yes, the Molino di Nicoli Gluten Free Couscous is simply corn flour. That explains the different texture from regular couscous…but ultimately still delicious. It felt more like grits than couscous…but…it will do. Different…but close enough in my eyes.
As far as nutrition goes…well…let me see if I can figure this out. A serving size of Molino di Nicoli Gluten Free Couscous is 50 grams, which is about 1/4 of a cup. This serving will provide you with 177 calories and 0.5 grams of fat. You will be consuming 0.002 mg sodium (yes…that is the actual measurement) and 0.3 grams of sugar. A serving provides you with 1.3 grams of fiber and 3.8 grams of protein. It’s not too filling, but you won’t fell starved an hour later either. Molino di Nicoli Gluten Free Couscous is gluten-free and cholesterol free.
I will be savoring this couscous for as long as I can, as I have a few more dishes I want to make with it. But tonight’s meal was a success. It was the perfect base for the grilled eggplant and the light and lively dressing that brought everything together. Beyond happy. It’s not exactly couscous, but when you’re gluten-free…this is close enough. Close enough…and really, really good!
Thank you, once again, Cuisine Cube. Because of you…I’m one happy couscous eating girl again!