Couscous is a really old dish. The tiny, bead-like pellets of semolina may look like rice, but it’s actually pasta. Some say, it’s been found in tombs dating back to the 2nd century, b.c. Well, you may find it in ancient tombs, but it sure hard to find in grocery stores. I was looking for the Israeli Pearl for a salad recipe. Now there’s a difference in regular couscous that’s readily available and Israeli Pearl. The latter is larger and works better in salads. All I could find was the regular, small-grain pellets, not the larger ones.
Off I went to Global Foods in Kirkwood, glad for any excuse to shop the exotic world market. They had several varieties of Israeli Pearl: regular, whole wheat and even tri-colored.
What’s It Made Of?
Originally, couscous was made of millet, which was later replaced by wheat, and in some places farina or barley. It’s typically served in North Africa and the Middle East with a stew ladled over the top. Here in the U.S., it’s more often served in salads.
What we get at the grocery is actually instant couscous. It’s been steamed and dried for us already. But what of its nutritional value? Good news. Couscous is a whole-grain food and a good source of B vitamins and lean, vegetarian protein. If you want to try this recipe from foodiecrush, or any others containing couscous, you might want to read this first: a listing of the Top 10 Couscous products as determined by Best Review Guide. On the other hand, you might be happy to find Israeli Pearl of any brand—I certainly was.
Israeli Couscous with Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash
- 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if large)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks
- 2 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups Israeli (pearl) couscous
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
- 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Place Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread in an even layer. Bake about 20-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until veggies are tender and starting to brown.
- Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add couscous and return to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, or until pellets have absorbed the water. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and place in large bowl.
- Add roasted veggies, green onions, cranberries and almonds. Toss to combine.
- In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Pour into bowl with couscous and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, as needed.
Kitchen Note: The original recipe called for a sweet potato, but I subbed a butternut squash. Either works.
Couscous with Pistachios, Apricots and Cranberries
- 2 cups Israeli, or pearl couscous
- 2 cups dried fruits, apricots, cranberries or dried cherries, chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs. shallots, minced
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbs. golden balsamic vinegar
- 1-2 tsp honey, to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook couscous according to package directions. Fluff mixture and add it to a large bowl with chopped fruit, pistachios and mint.
In a small jar, add the olive oil, shallots, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, honey, and a few pinches of kosher salt and black pepper. Pour over mixture and stir to combine.
Eat warm or cold. If cold, allow 1-2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld.