Friday, December 26, 2008
Toasted Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Spring Onions
We had a yen for lamb. I found gorgeous double cut chops and wanted something equally sumptuous to pair with them. My first adventure with Israeli couscous had been an absolute disaster - a dish resembling BB pellets and tasting not much better - but because I was up to my ears in potato and rice, I was willing to give this pasta another chance. I couldn't find a recipe that appealed to me, but the 2 cups of couscous I had purchased nagged at me. Most of my creations start this way. For those of you not familiar with the product, Israeli couscous is a small, round semolina pasta. It's sometimes called pearl couscous or maftoul, and it resembles barley or very small, white peas. I decided to toast the pasta and use spring vegetables to take it to another level. I'm happy to report it worked and has achieved "keeper" status. Highly recommended!
Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Spring Onions
2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
2 cups Israeli couscous
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Pinch of salt + salt to taste
1 (8-ounce) package sliced white or brown mushrooms
16 thin asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
16 thin spring onions, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided use
1) Combine stock and vermouth in a three cup measure. Set aside.
2) Toast couscous in a heavy skillet until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl.
3) In same skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until almost smoking. Add chopped onions, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Return couscous to pan. Add 2-1/2 cups of reserved stock mixture; bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Add reserved 1/2 cup stock mixture and cook, stirring rapidly with a spoon, until the couscous softens and plumps.
4) Meanwhile, place mushrooms, asparagus and spring onions into a microwavable container. Microwave on HIGH power for 3 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp tender.
5) Add vegetable mixture to couscous and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in 2 tablespoons reserved olive oil, butter and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yield: 6 servings.