Our meal consisted of a warm baguette with cream cheese, a greek olive assortment, spinach parmesan couscous & guanciale wrapped asparagus.
There were two stars to this meal. The first was the asparagus wrapped in guanciale...
We were inspired to make this when we had a similar appetizer at Broders' Pasta Bar a few weeks back. Its dead simple to make. I just cleaned the asparagus & wrapped it in the thin slices of guanciale. What is guanciale you ask? Guanciale is an unsmoked Italian bacon made from the from the cheeks or jowls of the pig (or as Matt calls it Face Bacon). It is a tasty, tasty treat but if you can't find it use pancetta instead, it won't be exactly the same but still good. Then the wrapped spears are thrown on a hot grill or grill pan & cooked until the guanciale is cooked & crispy. The saltiness of it with the sweet, fresh asparagus is perfection.
The other high point was the Spinach Parmesan Couscous. Near East* was nice enough to send us a couple boxes of their Parmesan Couscous to try.
Couscous is such a easy side because it cooks in 5 minutes & it's a snap to dress up. For this version I put some sliced spring onions in with the water to boil. Added the couscous & seasoning package then let it sit for 5 minutes. After that, I stirred in about 2 - 3 cups of chopped spinach until the spinach wilted from the heat. I could have eaten just a big bowl of this as my whole meal! It's a little thicker than regular couscous, almost like a polenta, most likely from the cheese. It's called parmesan couscous but it actually has a blend of three cheese in it including blue cheese which I could really taste. I was also happy to see it wasn't full on chemicals & artificial flavorings.
All & all this was exactly the kind of meal I needed after a hard week of work, easy & satisfying!
*Near East sent us samples of couscous to try but didn't pay us in any other way to write about it.
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