Israeli Couscous. Some of you may be a fan, while others may have never even heard of this great ingredient. I had never tried it until about a year or two ago when I was visiting my parents. My mom shoved a bowl in front of me when I said I was starving, and there I was trying to figure out exactly what I was staring at.
She proudly told me that it was Israeli Couscous, which I’d never heard of, and I figured it would be good. After all, my mom is a phenomenal cook, and when I tasted the concoction I was right. My mom always enjoys cooking with unique ingredients and techniques, as do I, so she was pretty excited to have introduced me to something new.
So let’s talk about Israeli Couscous for a moment. Essentially it’s small balls of pasta that are quite a bit larger than traditional couscous. It’s also sometimes known as Pearl Couscous, and I have to say that I really love this ingredient. I picked it to blog about this week, because I do enjoy Israeli Couscous but I’d never cooked with it before mainly because it’s not an ingredient that I ever remember to buy at the grocery store…until now.
This week I’m cooking two dishes featuring Israeli Couscous. I have a few goals here: First, I want to show you how fast and easy it is to cook this couscous. Second, you can see how flexible Israeli Couscous is as far as what types of ingredients you can combine it with. Third, I really want you adventurous cooks out there to hunt down some Israeli Couscous and make one or both of these recipes, so that you too will be a fan. See, I’m doing this for you, really!
Recipe #1: Pearled Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes
To get things started, I wanted to make a dish that had tomatoes in it. That was how I remember eating Israeli Couscous before, so I knew I couldn’t go too wrong here. The recipe was one that I came across on the Smitten Kitchen website (great site, btw!) that was rustic and looked so delicious.
This dish is easy to make and you can roast the tomatoes, make the tomato puree, and even cook the couscous ahead of time. Just be sure to bring all of the ingredients to room temperature before putting the dish together. This couldn’t be any easier to cook during a week night when you are extremely busy.
The flavors were simple and classic. I decided to pair it with some mahi-mahi and I’m telling you that this dish hit the spot! You literally cannot go wrong if you tried. Between the roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs, and Kalamata olives, the flavors work well together and really shine — and this is coming from a girl who used to only like black olives out of the can (you know what I’m talking about) — my olive-loving mom should be so proud of me right now.
Don’t be afraid of this delicious ingredient. Think of cooking it as a combination of cooking pasta and regular couscous and it is truly a cinch to make.
Click here for the recipe and step by step instructions!
Recipe #2: Toasted Israeli Couscous
Coming across this recipe is what inspired me to cook with Israeli Couscous this week. Lately I’ve really enjoyed watching Claire Robinson‘s 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Network. I think it’s so fascinating what she is able to make only using 5 ingredients. So when I got her cookbook I read it cover to cover and couldn’t wait to try out her recipes.
This is the first recipe I’m making from the cookbook. It’s a toasted couscous that has pistachios, scallions and dried apricots in it. How can you go wrong with that?! When I was shopping for the couscous, I actually stumbled upon whole wheat Israeli Couscous and I thought I’d try it out with this recipe.
You can use whatever Israeli Couscous you prefer. The whole wheat couscous was much like whole wheat pasta, in that it is more hearty, and I think, more filling. This dish had great flavor, which was helped out by the Lemon-infused olive oil. The olive oil can be purchased at specialty olive oil stores, but I actually found mine at the local Target Super Store…you gotta love a one-stop shop, don’t you?
Give this recipe a shot when you buy some Israeli Couscous. I think it would be great with your favorite dried fruit and nuts, too. Click here for the recipe and step by step instructions.