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Israeli couscous bowl

Israeli couscous, pearl couscous, maftoul…no matter how many different names it may have, it is just plain good.  It makes a wonderful side dish while commanding presence on the plate.  It certainly is a welcome change from boring old steamed rice or dinner rolls, and just takes minutes to cook.  It can be served as a side dish, used as a lovely presentation bed for chicken or fish dishes, or made into a salad dish and served cold.  The possibilities are endless.

The first time I had Israeli couscous was in a neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco.  The little pearly morsels were so flavorful and had a wonderfully chewy consistency.  I can’t even remember what it was paired with, but I do remember polishing off every last bit of couscous.  I’ve been on the look-out for Israeli couscous ever since.  To my delight, Trader Joe’s has started carrying Israeli couscous.  I immediately grabbed a box and put it in my basket, ignoring that little voice in my head saying, “What do you think you’re doing, you don’t know how to cook this.”  I went home and looked up various recipes for Israeli couscous, but none really caught my eye.  So I kind of just winged it, and happily, it turned out pretty good.  Simmering the couscous in chicken broth rather than water gives it a deeper flavor, while the sun-dried tomatoes brighten the dish.

Israeli Couscous with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Capers

1 T. butter
1-1/2 c. Israeli couscous
2 c. chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
2 T. capers, drained
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Melt 1 T butter over medium heat in a small saute pan, then add couscous.  Stirring frequently to incorporate melted butter, saute couscous until it is lightly toasted and a golden brown color, approximately 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat the chicken broth and minced garlic over medium heat.

Pour the toasted couscous into the pot with the chicken broth and garlic, stirring to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally.  Allow the couscous to cook for approximately 10 minutes, until it has absorbed all the liquid and the couscous is tender.  Remove from heat.

While the couscous is cooking, reconstitute the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl of hot water.  Allow to sit 5 minutes, then chop the tomatoes into pieces slightly larger than the capers.  Place the drained capers and chopped sun-dried tomatoes into a large bowl.  Add the couscous and combine well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange on a serving platter and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal.