Barely Cooking: Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous

Welcome to Barely Cooking, where I tackle one real recipe a week(ish) in an effort to eat healthier and expand my skills in the kitchen, which are relatively non-existent. When I’m not attempting to create a new gustatory sensation, I rely on veggie burgers, grilled cheese, and frequent consumption of cereal for dinner. I cook in a tiny New York City kitchen that lacks many typical culinary accouterments, like baking dishes and a blender. I often substitute ingredients I shouldn’t, and I have a slight disregard for following directions. So, whatever I can do, you can do—better!

Can you spot the wrong ingredient?

So, it’s been a little more than a week since I last made a Barely Cooking entry. At first, this was because I moved apartments at the beginning of September, and that involved many changes. One of them being that I got lazy and didn’t want to cook a real meal every week. But I’ve decided to make a comeback in the form of Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous.

What: Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous
Where: Taste of Home recipe
How: 7/10 easiness; 7/10 satisfaction

I kind of forgot how long cooking takes. None of the individual steps involved in this meal preparation was difficult, but there were so dang many of them.

I did not forget how often I make under-informed decisions to make ingredient swaps. I chose to use chicken broth in the meal prep and save the white wine for my direct consumption, which occurred during said meal prep. As we had no balsamic vinegar–which I didn’t buy because I could have sworn that we didI used one part red wine vinegar and one part balsamic vinegar glaze. Close enough. I chopped green onion instead of shallots because is there even a difference? And I added the full two tablespoons, even though I cut the recipe in half, because I really like green onion and wasn’t planning on making out with anyone after dinner.

Now can you spot the wrong ingredent?

I did forget to double and triple check all of the directions. The most egregious mistake made was committed before I even got the groceries home. I accidentally bought cucumber instead of zucchini. I am seriously considering going back to Whole Foods and informing them someone played a prank on the produce section, because I am 99% certain I grabbed my long green vegetable from the section clearly marked “zucchini.” My roommate had the brilliant idea of adding the cucumber raw at the end instead of cooking it into mush, but it was already too latethe wrong ingredient was in the pan. Just another example of why I’m so terrible at cooking: I have no sense of chef’s intuition.

“What did I do to deserve losing my tail?”

Ultimately, once I added some special spicy jalepeño powder from the small town bakery and BBQ joint near my parents’ home in Houston, the recipe was a delight. Shrimp is freakin’ expensive so I didn’t have as much as I would like, but even without protein, the sun dried tomatoes would save the dish. (Which are also weirdly expensive. Can I just buy regular tomatoes and leave them out to dry on my rooftop?)

Welcome back, Chef Meredith Diann. I don’t know how often she’ll make appearances, but my belly will be glad when she does.

Hold your applause.