Couscous with Cauliflower and Peas

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly toasted and ground
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
2 cups dried chickpeas or white beans, soaked in 2 quarts water for six hours or overnight
2 tablespoons harissa (or more to taste; substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or more to taste if harissa is unavailable), plus additional for serving
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, or a combination
2 to 2 2/3 cups couscous, preferably whole wheat couscous, as needed


Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the ground coriander, caraway and cumin. Cook, stirring, for a minute, until fragrant. Add the beans and their soaking water and an additional quart of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add salt to taste, cover and simmer one hour. Add the harissa, the tomato paste, and simmer another 30 minutes to an hour, until the beans are thoroughly tender and the broth fragrant. Remove 1/2 cup of the broth and set aside.

Add the cauliflower to the simmering stew and cook, partially covered, for another 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt, garlic or harissa as desired. The stew should be spicy.

Reconstitute and steam the couscous, mixing the half cup of reserved broth with the water you use to reconstitute the couscous. Meanwhile, stir the peas and parsley and/or cilantro into the simmering stew. Simmer for five minutes or longer, taste and adjust seasonings. Transfer the couscous to a wide serving bowl or directly to wide soup plates. Spoon on the stew and serve, passing additional harissa at the table.
from NY Times.