Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Israeli (pearl) Couscous with lemon, feta, pine nuts

In college I ate so much cafeteria couscous that I developed a distaste for it (don't even get me started on tabbouleh). Many years later I discovered Israeli (pearl) couscous at Graham Elliot. Hello pearl couscous, where have you been all of my life? The texture reminds me of sabudana khichdi, a pearl tapioca dish my mom used to make during times of fast.

I am totally in love and feel like I have to make up for lost time. Currently my most favorite method of preparing pearl couscous is to sauté shallot and garlic in olive oil and toss it with cooked couscous, fresh lemon juice, Bulgarian feta, pine nuts, and freshly chopped parsley. I simply cook the couscous in water because the other flavors are so pronounced. You can also cook it in vegetable (or chicken) broth.

I recently served this dish for dinner with a side of spicy Moroccan carrots. All together, it was a satisfying, healthy meal with interesting, complex flavors.

Israeli (pearl) couscous with lemon, feta, pine nuts
1 cup pearl couscous, whole wheat
1 1/3 cups water (or broth)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 oz feta, cut into small 1/4" cubes
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup pearl couscous, bring back to a boil and cover. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and couscous is just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir to keep couscous from sticking. If there is remaining water, drain. If you will not use the couscous immediately, spread it into a thin layer in a baking pan to avoid clumping until you are ready to use.

Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add shallot and garlic, sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in cooked couscous. Let cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat. Add lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, and feta. Stir to combine well. Toss with parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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