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Romaine Hearts with Couscous and Cauliflower

Serves8
IngredientsVegetables
Day PartDinner
Menu PartEntree
Cuisine TypeMediterranean
romaine couscous cauliflower

Corporate Chef Beat Giger
Pebble Beach Resorts
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Cooking romaine lettuce hearts allows the leaves to be pliable enough to wrap around a grain-based filling, like the Israeli couscous used here. The unexpected application makes for an innovative small plate or appetizer.

Ingredients

3 cups water
3 cups Israeli couscous
1/4 cup olive oil or butter
1 head cauliflower
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 petite romaine hearts
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
4 cups marinara sauce

Steps

1. In large saucepan, bring water to a boil; add couscous and remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 7 minutes. Uncover and fluff couscous with fork. 
2. Wash cauliflower, cut into small florets and blanch in pot of boiling water; drain well. In large skillet, heat butter or oil. Saute cauliflower and bell pepper until both are tender-crisp. Add couscous and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut 1 inch from the base of the romaine hearts and separate into individual leaves. Blanch the leaves in boiling water.  Remove with a slotted spoon and shock in ice bath to stop the cooking process; remove from ice and pat dry.
4. Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter 8 small souffle cups. Arrange romaine hearts with leaf tops at the center of each souffle cup and the ends extending above the rim. Fill cups with couscous mixture, press firmly and fold over leaf ends to seal.
5. Place filled souffle cups on sheet pan, cover with foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce.
6. Remove souffle cups from oven. Turn each cup over onto a serving plate and remove the cup. Fold back romaine to expose couscous; add marinara sauce on the side. Garnish with small cauliflower florets, if desired.

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