Monday, December 12, 2011
So I'm having a Whole Foods moment. Well, what I mean by that is that I've been inspired by my favorite store more than once in the last few weeks. I love tuna, but I also love this couscous. If I can make it myself, why buy it! (I know not everyone shares this sentiment...but just think of all the money you'll save!)
Let me throw a little food knowledge at you first. There are two types of couscous. Moroccan couscous is a tiny rolled pasta, usually made from semolina, that is mostly sold pre-steamed. This type of couscous is cooked by adding it to boiling water, removing from the heat and resting for 5 minutes, then simply fluffing with a fork. Super easy and fast. Israeli couscous, the type that is used in this recipe, looks like little pasta balls. It is cooked like pasta too. Add it to boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes, then drain. Got it? Now you have a great holiday party conversation starter, and possibly a dish to bring!
This recipe makes a lot. Which is a good thing. The sweet/salty flavor of the cranberries and salted pasta can be blamed for the inability to remove your spoon from the bowl while standing in front of the refrigerator. At least that is what people have told me.... Besides eating it for breakfast and lunch, this would also be great as a side next to poultry or pork. Throw some sautéed greens on the plate and dinner is done!
Israeli Couscous with Cranberries and Pecans
Serves 8-10 as a side, 4-5 as a lunch
12 oz Israeli couscous (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 1/4 c. chopped, toasted pecans
4 scallions, white and light green parts finely chopped
3 TBS neutral oil (canola, vegetable or grapeseed)
1 1/2 TBS Champagne vinegar (you could probably substitute white wine if you don't have champagne)
zest from 1 orange
juice from 1/2 orange
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain and put into a large bowl.
The best way to toast pecans is to do them on the stove top in a fry pan. I find that if you bake them in the oven, you are most likely going to forget about them until you smell them burning. I heat my dry pan on medium heat for a few minutes, then add the nuts. Give them a shake every 30-60 seconds. Once they give off their lovely nutty smell, they are usually done. Add these to the bowl with the couscous, along with the cranberries and scallions.
In a medium bowl combine all the dressing ingredients. (Make sure that you zest the orange before you juice it. A juiced piece of citrus is really hard to zest. I've done that more than once!) Pour dressing over the salad and fold to combine.
Don't eat it yet. As hard as it is to hold back digging in at this point, it is worth the wait to let the dish cool and the flavors come together. Tasting the dish now doesn't taste anything like it will in a few hours once it is cold. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to make this right before bed. If waiting all night doesn't work for you, give it at least 2 hours. The leftovers on day two are even better!