I may have mentioned this before, but growing up, I was all about the veggies. Yes, I admittedly had a healthy appetite for meat and chicken too – but when it came time for the inevitable second helpings (portion control? what?), vegetables were always my go-to.
Popular mainstays were cauliflower, potatoes and carrots, stewed bamia (okra), fasolia (green beans) or cousa. All cooked in a fresh tomato sauce and served over Egyptian vermicelli rice – yes, yes and yes please.
Cousa, for those of you not in the know is a light-coloured summer squash and is basically the Middle East’s answer to zucchini. Nowadays I prefer my cousa sans the rice, but it always finds its way into my shopping basket, especially this time of year when its grown locally and is super fresh (well, almost locally – it hails from Saudi Arabia, a 30 minute drive from Bahrain).
Today’s recipe was the result of a self-imposed “detox” after one too many slices of vegan pizza on vacation. While I definitely don’t regret any of my indulgences, by the end of the trip my body was definitely craving lighter and brighter foods. Cue the return of tall green smoothies, fresh salads, hearty grains and simple vegetable sautés like this one.
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cups of cousa squash, sliced at medium thickness
- 2 tightly packed cups of kale, de-stemmed, washed
- 1 cup of vegetable stock
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- Start by heating up 2-3 tbsp of vegetable stock in a medium sized pan or wok, then add in the onions and cook on medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir often and add more stock or water as needed.
- Add in the cousa along with half of the remaining vegetable stock and stir to coat. Turn the heat to low and cover, stirring in allowing it to simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the cousa is just starting to soften.
- Tear the kale into bite-sized pieces (this doesn't need to be exact) before adding to the pan along with the remaining vegetable stock. Stir occasionally until kale is wilted.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper and allow to cool slightly before dressing with olive oil if desired.
The sweetness and softness of the cousa complements the wilted kale beautifully, tied together by a burst of flavour from the onions and stock.
My favourite way to serve this delightfully flavourful dish is with a grain (brown rice and quinoa work excellently) and a healthy serving of chickpeas. In fact, this very combo made for an excellent packed lunch all last week.
Onwards, to the recipe notes!
- Sautéeing with vegetable stock is not as intimidating as it sounds – the trick is to maintain a moderate flame, keep a close watch and add stock or water as you go to prevent sticking. The result is a dish that is delicately flavoured, well cooked and virtually fat free.
- I actually prefer to add in some extra virgin olive oil to this dish in particular for a richer flavour, but the stock sautéeing method still works well here as I prefer not to cook with EVOO, since it has a low smoking point and oxidises easily.
- If you can’t get your hands on cousa, you could easily make this with regular zucchini or your summer squash of choice. Don’t like kale?
Get out of hereNo problem – substitute spinach, swiss chard or any other leafy green you prefer.
I hope you make this one friends, it’s a treat.
Oh, and before I forget, Eid Mubarak to all those who celebrate. I personally have chosen to eschew celebrations this year, you can read more about my stance on animal sacrifice and Islam here.
Until next time.