Couscous with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Almonds

  • Juice from one orange, about 1/2 cup
  • 1/3 cup black raisins
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cored and cut into about 16 slim wedges
  • 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup almonds
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1large shallot (or two small), minced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste and a pinch of coarse sea salt

Soak raisins in orange juice until they plump up, about 1 – 2 hours; strain, and set aside. Toss fennel wedges in one tablespoon of olive oil, pepper and salt; spread on a lined baking sheet and roast in a 350 oven for about 12-15 minutes, until edges are beginning to brown, and the fennel wedges are softening – but still have a little bite. Toast almonds on a separate pan in the oven until lightly browned; allow to cool; coarsely chop, and set aside. While fennel and almonds are in the oven, bring chicken stock to a boil over high heat; add couscous, stir, cover, and remove from heat; let rest for about 15 minutes until all of the stock is absorbed. In a separate bowl, whisk together shallots and vinegar, then whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; add pepper and salt to taste. Transfer couscous to a serving bowl and fluff with fork; stir in the orange-soaked raisins, and fennel fronds; toss with enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat everything – be sure to include all of the shallot bits. Top with roasted fennel and almonds; finish with a sprinkling of ground pepper and coarse sea salt.

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