Israeli couscous seems to be one of those “in style” foods right now. Suddenly it’s like I’m seeing it everywhere. So as is sometimes the norm with me, if I see it pimped enough, I’m probably going to try it eventually. Unless those bugs on sticks in Asian markets ever come in food style. I don’t think I could ever go quite there.
But I digress. I couldn’t even find this variety of couscous anywhere in town. The second largest town in the entire state of Georgia – nada. So I ordered a five pound bag off of Amazon and prayed to the Gods of Tasty that the stuff would prove to be yummy. And thanks to this recipe, I could very well make my way happily through that entire five pound bag. Well, over time, of course.
This is a dish you can make ahead of time. It’ll taste good either chilled or at room temperature. We ate are ours at room temperature and loved it. The veggies contrast great with the chewy couscous and the simple dressing of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil really is what rounds it all out.
Curious about couscous in general? Here’s a handy Wikipedia entry.
People, look! Healthiness at Full Fork Ahead! Another point in this recipe’s favor – it’s vegetarian. Put that on your fork and eat it. No, seriously.
No, those aren’t little styrofoam balls, I promise. In its uncooked state, this stuff doesn’t really inspire confidence, but you’ll only be even more amazed once it’s cooked as a result. If you like al dente style pastas, this one would be perfect for you. Even after cooking ours a little longer than stated, it was still firm in texture.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to toast like the most. A little olive oil, some medium heat, and you’re on your way to golden-colored couscous. This message doesn’t self-destruct. Thank goodness. But your taste buds will, oh yes!
Please ignore the nekkidness of my pan. It lost its coat in the dishwasher, thanks to a cruel overlord of a cook. Now, this is where I began to diverge a little with the recipe directions. You quick-cook the veggies on high heat for three minutes. I found the sugar snaps to still be too crunchy. Next time I’m putting them in first so I can saute them a little longer than the regular peas and asparagus. Otherwise, crispy veggies get a nom of approval.
Once those little bits of pasta pearl goodness get done soaking up some veggie broth, let them and the veggies get together for a little mingle session. Pour on the olive oil/lemon juice/garlic dressing, and some Parmesan cheese, and before you know it they’ll be best friends forever. Or so long as it takes you to eat them. Then they won’t be friends. They’ll be gone. So sad.
NOM. Nom nom and nom.
I can’t tell you how good this is with something like grilled salmon. No, really, I can’t. Not in English anyway. Unless you can translate moans of food tasting ecstasy?
Israeli Couscous with Crispy Greens
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 6-8
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
- 1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous (6 to 7 ounces)
- 1 3/4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
- 14 ounces slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup shelled fresh green peas or frozen, thawed
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Whisk 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, and lemon peel in small bowl; set dressing aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until most of couscous is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups broth, increase heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 10 minutes, adding more broth by tablespoonfuls if too dry.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, green peas, and remaining minced garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer vegetables to large bowl.
Add couscous to bowl with vegetables. Drizzle dressing over. Add chives and cheese; toss. Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made ahead and served room temperature or chilled. I’ve only tried it room temperature so far and wonder if chilling it would make some of its flavors stand out less, or more.
ETA 9-3-10: Neighborhood alert, everyone. I’ve made this a few times since posting the recipe and I’m sorry to say this stuff is not that great leftover. Being in the fridge too long, like overnight, makes the Parmesan cheese and couscous almost plastic-like in texture. Heating it up in the microwave? BAD idea. Then the couscous gets tough and, needless to say, the cheese will melt and in this case that wasn’t a good thing. Your best bet is to eat this one all up if you can the day you make it.
As it alludes to in the ingredients, you can use more liquid in the couscous if you’d like. Just know that we used the amount it states, but we did cook it slightly longer than the directions say to and it was still on the wet side. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just test it out and see what your preferences are.
Don’t forget to snip off the woody ends of that asparagus. It’s pretty nasty stuff and you’ll look like a beaver who can’t chew through wood.
I might be tempted to add slightly more lemon juice next time, but if you’re a fan of it being more subtle, then the amount called for worked well in that regard.