Couscous with Chickpeas, Fennel, Olives, and Citrus

I love Middle Eastern flavors, and couscous is a classic vehicle for carrying richly flavored foods, such as dishes of chickpeas. If you do decide to use this as a side dish to some spicy skewers, try adding a yogurt and cucumber sauce, too.

Couscous With Chickpeas, Fennel, and Olives

Serves 2

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices or wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
—> Or use the following mixture of spices, instead of ras el hanout
   1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
   1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
   1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
   1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
   1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
   1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
   1/4 teaspoon allspice
   1/4 teaspoon turmeric
   1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
   1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
   1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
   1/4 teaspoon anise seed, crushed
   1/4 teaspoon black pepper
   1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 cups (or a 15-ounce can) unsalted organic chickpeas
6 Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
1/2 cup organic low-sodium vegetable stock

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of saffron
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup whole wheat organic couscous
Garnish: toasted pine nuts, a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, chickpeas, olives, and lemon juice to pan and stir to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally. The goal here is to slowly infuse the garbanzos with the spices.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, sauté the onion until somewhat caramelized. Add garlic. Juice the orange into a liquid measuring cup and top up with water to make 1 cup of liquid. Add liquid to the onion-garlic mixture, along with saffron, pepper, and remaining citrus zests. Bring to a boil and stir in couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

To serve, fluff couscous grains with a fork and spread on a dish. Spoon chickpeas and fennel over couscous and garnish with toasted pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.