Israeli couscous is the best ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

17 November 2011

Israeli couscous is the best

Israeli couscous and chickpea salad recipeWait, how did we get into the actual run-up to thanksgiving? I still have to talk about fairly summery things! The leaves are still predominantly green! My tomatoes are still alive! And, well, this is living in California: being unprepared for every seasonal event because the weather outside doesn't match the calendar in your head.

So let's talk about Israeli couscous. I have had a bulk bag of it in my freezer for six months, but have somehow never eaten any until now. This, it turns out, was a mistake. I want more!

Israeli couscous & chickpea salad

olive oil/butter
Israeli couscous
more onion
hot chili pepper
cooked chickpeas
sweet or mild pepper
dry vermouth
oregano, salt, black pepper
lemon juice & zest
optional grating cheese, or feta if that floats your boat

Ok. First, you're going to need two pans: one to cook your couscous and the other to stew all your vegetables together into a wash of deliciousness.

I had to look up how to cook Israeli couscous, since I'd never done it before. The main issue was the proportion of water to pasta (because Israeli couscous is actually pasta; did you know?). I found the solution in this Chowhound thread; evidently, one should measure a specific amount of Israeli couscous, barely cover with water, and then add the same amount of water as couscous. Great! However, I didn't just cook the couscous alone. Instead, I flavored it with onion cooked in olive oil.

Start by warming some olive oil in the bottom of your intended couscous saucepan and sautéing half a chopped yellow onion in it. When the onion is translucent, add a cup of dry couscous, cover it with water, and add another cup of water. Put the lid on, bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and let the pan sit while you cook everything else. It should take about ten minutes to produce perfect Israeli couscous.

In the meantime, make your vast vegetable mass. So. Warm some more olive oil in a wide sauté pan, add chopped onion, minced garlic, and minced hot pepper, and let everything soften together for a few minutes.

Next, drain a can of cooked chickpeas and added them to the pan along with some oregano, salt, and pepper. I think I may have added a splash of water at this point too. Obviously, chickpeas you soak and boil yourself will be better, but I used canned and they worked just fine.

chickpeas and zucchiniGive the chickpeas five minutes or so to heat through while you dice a pepper (preferably red bell, though you can use an Anaheim or banana if you want) and chop a zucchini into thin quarter-moons. Add the vegetables to the pan and cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally. When your vegetables are three or four minutes from done, deglaze the pan with dry vermouth. Give everything another few minutes over the heat to burn off the alcohol. Then correct the seasonings and turn off the heat.

By this point your couscous should be done. Pour the couscous into the vegetable pan, add the juice and finely chopped zest of a quarter of a lemon, and mix everything together. Taste for seasonings one last time; besides the obvious salt and pepper, you might need to add a little more olive oil or lemon juice. Some fresh parsley couldn't hurt, either.

Now scoop some couscous into a bowl, grate some cheese over the top if you like, and eat.

Israeli couscous & chickpea saladI had this for dinner and then immediately the next morning for breakfast, and I'm happy to report that it was just as good cold as it was hot. That's how I like my food: great at any speed.


Jes said...

Yay Israeli Cous Cous! I made a batch of it last week where I just threw in shredded up chipotle gouda that was about to go bad--easy peasy mac n' cheese (kindof). Your veggies & cous cous are radtastic!

And super thanks for catching the broken links. Fixing them was a pain, but at least it's done now!

eatme_delicious said...

I'm surprised that I've never bought Israeli couscous (except in a mixed grain bag once). I wish I could have this for lunch!

Eileen said...

You're welcome, Jes (as you know, haha)! I should try cheese in my cous sometime...

Yes, Ashley, go get some Israeli couscous and do it! Easy & definitely worth it.