Sunday, October 6, 2013

Israeli (pearl) Couscous with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Until recently the only place I had had Israeli couscous was at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. The MRL couscous was mixed with an assortment of veggies and was delicious, so much better than the smaller almost sawdust-like couscous with which I was familiar.  Last month when I saw boxes of Israeli couscous at Trader Joe's, thinking of past dinners at Moosilauke, I impulsively put a box in my basket.  My first attempt to cook it with pistachios and apricots was okay. I got more couscous in Whole Foods bulk food and tried this. Superb first try.
This dish is a variation of Linguine with Fresh TomatoesThe sauce, (tomatoes, basil and garlic) is pretty much the same, but the pasta and pasta preparation is different. Yes, pasta,. Though its shape and texture suggest grain-like qualities, couscous is made from semolina and part of the pasta family.






Combine in bowl, mix and marinate for about an hour:

1 pint (~ 3/4 pound) cherry tomatoes, preferably multi-colored, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil


Warm a medium sauce pan, drizzle ~ 2 t olive oil over the bottom, heat then add:

1 c (~5.5 ounces) Israeli couscous

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until couscous is browned, about 4 minutes.  Then add:

1 1/2 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegan/vegetarian)

Bring to simmer then cover tightly and cook for 15 minutes.  Stir and set aside, covered.

Add to tomato mixture:

~3/4 ounce basil leaves, slivered

Mix well,  then toss with couscous and serve.  When using this sauce with other pasta (linguine, gemelli, etc) I top with grated Parmesan. This dish, however, perhaps due to the richness of the broth and the robust flavor of the couscous, seems complete as is.