From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We were given two beautiful tuna steaks today and I wanted to pair them them with something that would highlight, rather than mask, their flavor. We haven't had Israeli couscous in an age, and I thought this would be a great time to start working it back into our meals. I also had a bag of it in my pantry that had to be used before it became fodder for the compost pile. My first adventure with the grain was a sorry looking mess that tasted like a lumpy gruel and looked like BB pellets. The fault was entirely mine, and normally, I would have given myself credit for the old college try and moved on to something else. However, I was sick to death of rice and potatoes, so I decided to give the couscous one more try. I looked around but couldn't find a recipe that appealed to me, but the 2 cups of couscous sitting on my pantry shelf kept nagging at me. Sad to say that most most of my creations start as failures. 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 wanted to give the couscous as much flavor as possible, so I decided to toast it and use spring vegetables to give it more flavor and take it to another level. I'm happy to report my fixes worked and the recipe has achieved "keeper" status in our household. While I highly recommended this dish, I do have a small caution to share with you. Not everyone likes the chewy texture or size of these pellets. Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do about that, so do be forewarned and consider working with a smaller pasta. Here is how my version of Israeli couscous is made.
Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms and Mixed Vegetables...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
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.
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