This recipe explains a lot about why I love(d) Everyday Food. The issue B and I chose is one of the issues that went with my husband, D, during our brief academic separation. Let me back up. I went back to school in the fall of 2009 to get a master’s degree. D stayed in Chicago while I went downstate because we thought it would only be a year and why uproot two lives. So we had to divide up our stuff. Lots of it went in my parents’ basement, lots into his parents’ basement, then the truly essential things were split between my new place and his new place. Which brings me to Everyday Food. Our collection of the magazine was split between us so that neither one of us would have to be without it. I’ve been a subscriber since my mom transferred her subscription to me the fall that I started law school. It was the fall right after I got married and the fall when I first moved to Chicago with that husband and got our cats. This magazine is as old as my adulthood. It taught me how to cook something besides macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and 2-mustard chicken (a delectable dish involving…wait for it…two mustards). So it’s important, ok?!?!
Because this recipe is from an issue that was in D’s custody during that year, he is the one with all of the experience cooking it. In fact, he cooked it again this time. I asked him for his thoughts about the recipe as someone who has made it so many times. I asked him why he made it so often back in his semi-bachelor days. He told me that it was a good choice because it is quick (that’s true, this dish really only takes maybe 15-20 minutes. Not cookbook 15-20 minutes. Real 15-20 minutes), and it gives you a lot of chunks of hands-off cooking time when you are free to unload the dishwasher, set the coffee for the next day, and clean up after yourself. Plus, it is delicious. He’s definitely right about that one. It has a real Mediterranean flavor to it with the selection of vegetables, the couscous, and the oregano. That makes it wonderfully light, but flavorful. It is also nicely moist. One does not think of things cooked in the microwave as being particularly moist, but this fish was perfect. He also noted that this recipe uses pantry staples (dried oregano, olive oil, couscous) and things that store well for a long time (bell peppers, zucchini, and, if frozen, fish). That makes it a good one for a semi-bachelor who doesn’t always have time to make it to the grocery store on a regular basis.
Another reason why D likes this recipe so much, he said, is because it does well with substitutions. You’ll note that the recipe calls for flounder. D always makes it with tilapia. Why? Because that’s what they sell in the big bags at Aldi. You can also swap in other steaming-friendly vegetables without losing much. I can imagine green beans in this dish. This time around, D also substituted whole wheat Israeli couscous for the usual couscous. This was completely delicious. This did require one change to the cooking time. You need to steam the veggie and couscous mixture for another minute if you’re using Israeli couscous. That’s it!
A family classic worthy of becoming a staple long after we’ve reunited.