Libyan Couscous with Chickpeas, Squash, Zucchini and Eggplant

Submitted by Judy on Sat, 09/22/2007 - 10:01pm.

from "The Foods of Israel Today" by Joan Nathan
as seen in The Orange County Register, 9-14-01

1 cup dried chickpeas
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
3 medium onions, roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 butternut, acorn or other bright orange squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch rounds
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch chunks
2 celery stalks (with leaves), cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cabbage (about 1 pound), shredded
2-3 potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided use
4 tablespoons snipped fresh dill, divided use
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound couscous

1. Soak garbanzos in water to cover (by at least 1 inch) 8 hours or overnight. This will yield 2 cups of reconstituted garbanzos.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in bottom of a couscousière (special pot designed for steaming couscous) or stockpot. Add onions and sauté until golden.
3. Drain garbanzos, add to onions and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, 1 hour.
4. Add carrots, squash, zucchini, eggplant, celery, cabbage and potatoes. Stir in garlic, turmeric, 1/2 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons snipped dill, salt and pepper. Mix well and bring to boil.
5. Place couscous in cheesecloth-lined vegetable steamer or couscousière insert, and with fingers gently rub grains to eliminate lumps. Set insert in couscousière or stockpot over boiling vegetables. Cover, lower heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender. Adjust seasonings to taste.
6. Pour 1 cup of hot water slowly over couscous into pot, mixing it in with fingers, and add remaining 2 tablespoons oil as it is absorbed, again separating grains. Continue to steam 15 minutes more.
7. Transfer couscous to center of large serving dish, and again separate grains with fingers to fluff it. Spoon vegetables around edge and sprinkle on remaining 2 tablespoons each of cilantro and dill.
Yield: 6 servings