Meal Experiment: Tex Mex Cous Cous

I’m not one for following recipes. This means I don’t bake, but I do enjoy experimenting with making dinner at home.

And as of last week, I plan to do a lot more of that.

A little background: With the fingers on one hand, I can count the number of meals I’ve made at home since the new year started. I have a great neighborhood — downtown Memphis — for eating out or ordering in. And I love supporting our local chefs and business owners by eating out or ordering in.

Unfortunately, here in Memphis, eating out often means limited healthy options. Fried food, soul food, and high-sodium food are delicious. But my blood pressure readings aren’t too thankful for the taste.

With a family history of high blood pressure and related illness, it’s time to make some changes. My goal is 10 out of every 14 weekly meals being low-sodium, reasonably low-fat vegetarian, plus no fried food. Breakfast doesn’t count because I typically have fresh fruit. I’m focusing on lunch and dinner — the times when the burgers and fries could be right in front of me in just minutes.

I’ll set a new goal in about two months, when healthier habits have already been formed and are maintainable and are ready for another scale.

Last night I decided to see what I could throw together with a base of cous cous and black beans. A delicious Tex Mex Cous Cous patty resulted.

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Here’s what I recall doing:

Ingredients List

Cous Cous (not pre-flavored, as that adds sodium)

Mrs Dash Chipotle Seasoning

Cayenne Pepper

1 Can of Black Beans

1 Can of Stewed Tomatoes with Green Chilies Added

1 Egg

Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese

Olive Oil

Sour Cream – optional

Cous Cous Prep

Prepare 1 cup cous cous as directed. (Except I didn’t do it as directed. I got distracted by another NCIS binge in progress. Instead I put cous cous into the water before the boil. Crap. Added more water when I saw how quickly it soaked up, brought it all to boil together. The result was perfectly fine and fluffy.)

Sprinkle light cayenne pepper and moderate Mrs Dash into cous cous pot to absorb flavor while boiling.

Black Beans & Tomato Prep

Drain and then heat black beans and add more Mrs Dash — to taste.

Place heated beans in a large mixing bowl and add drained can of tomatoes.

Lightly beat one egg and add it to the bowl.

Add cous cous to the bowl.

Mix all of these together.

Cooking

Heat a skillet on medium and add olive oil once it’s warm.

To form and cook the patties you have options. You could do it by hand. I saw a suggestion online saying to use wet hands to form your patties to prevent the ingredients from sticking to you. If you go this route you probably want to mix in the cheese here.

I happened to have egg molds (seen in the photo above) and decided to use those. I sprayed them with Pam so the patties wouldn’t stick and placed them in the skillet. Then I filled each mold half way with the mixture. I sprinkled cheese on top before then filling up the rest of the mold with the mixture.

I cooked each side for about 3 minutes. A light crust formed that added a great texture to the meal — like crab cakes. The patties were easy to flip, but just take your time doing it because they are a bit delicate.

I topped each one with a little sour cream.

This experiment made four patties. I ate three last night, and the one pictured below as a snack today. To re-heat, go for 1 minute on 60% power in the microwave.

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Next time I may try fresh avocado slices, guacamole, or replace the Mexican cheese blend with queso fresco. Many options here — including swapping out the chipotle seasoning for another flavor style, like cilantro, lime, and onion.

Let me know if you try it at home!

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