Saturday, October 15, 2011

Israeli Couscous salad with beans and tomatoes

Israeli couscous, have you all seen or tried this yet? Ever wonder what the heck it is? Well, Israeli couscous isn't a strange and exotic grain. It's not a grain at all, rather, it's pasta, just like all couscous. Yes, you read that right, ALL couscous is really just tiny beads of pasta that cook up super quick due to their tiny size. Israeli couscous is no different except its beads are larger than normal couscous, making them more pearl like. They cook up very fast also, less than 10 minutes, and are tasty! I like to get my Israeli couscous from the health food store, they have it available in bulk and you can buy as much or as little as you'd like. It's really really cheap, too, bonus!

Israeli couscous is toasted from the factory. Personally, I wanted more of that roasty toasty flavor so I decided to further brown my couscous in melted butter. Nothing wrong with that! A small amount of onion was added for flavor, but not so much that it overwhelmed the delicate toasty flavor of the couscous. The Witch used chicken broth to cook the couscous in for additional flavor, but if you're looking to make this dish completely vegetarian water or veggie broth would work just fine also. As the couscous cooks it releases a lot of starches which make the texture of the cooked Israeli couscous more like a good risotto than couscous.

Because this was an entire meal I knew that I needed some protein in there somewhere so I added white beans that I have in my pantry. The soft texture and gentle flavor of the cannellini bean was delightful against the soft, rich creamy flavor of the couscous. Having an abundance of cherry tomatoes from the garden it was a no brainer to add a handful of the sweet red treats into the couscous. Feta cheese was in the fridge and its flavors as well as very granular texture again worked fabulously with the couscous. Now all it needed was a dressing! In a small mason jar, or any jar with a lid, add the juice of half a lemon, a touch of honey to counteract the tart of the lemon and 2 parts olive oil. I just eyeballed the amount in the glass jar, when it looked like I had a 2:1 ratio of oil to lemon juice I stopped. It was about 3T of oil. A touch of garlic and fresh herbs including mint, oregano and parsley completed this easy and tasty dressing. The dressing will make a lot more than you need for one serving, you'll actually be able to get about 3 couscous salads out of this dressing, so save the leftovers in the fridge for another tasty salad.

The final results of this are savor, rich, creamy, tart, sweet and plain yummy. The herbs in the dressing added great flavor, just enough to keep you interested in taking another bite. The tomatoes give bursts of sweet tart flavor that counter the rich creamy taste of the couscous. A nice salty tang is provided by the feta and the creamy beans kept me full for hours! This recipe was developed as a quick and easy lunch for myself. Imagine my surprise when the Little Witch wanted to try some (shock!) and then declared that she LOVES couscous and wanted more! (double shock!) If you're looking for a quick lunch, easy side dish or a meatless main course, look no further than this Israeli couscous dish. Enjoy!

Israeli couscous salad with beans and tomatoes
makes 1 main dish sized serving
1/2 c Israeli couscous
3/4 c chicken broth OR water
2 t butter
1 T minced onions
1 T minced green pepper (optional)
6-8 cherry tomatoes
1/3 c white beans (cannellini beans), drained and rinsed (1 can will make 3 salads)
2T feta cheese
3t dressing, recipe follows

Lemon herb dressing
makes enough for 3 salads
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 parts olive oil, approx 3T
1t honey
1 clove garlic sliced thin
pinch kosher salt & pepper
fresh minced herbs: parsley, mint and oregano (small bit of parsley, 5 leaves each mint & oregano)

Make dressing first: combine all ingredients in a small lidded jar and shake well to mix. Set aside.

Prepare salad:
In a small sauce pan heat butter over medium high heat until it foams. Once the foaming stops add the uncooked couscous, stir to coat all pearls in butter. Toast for 2 minutes then add the onions. Stir to coat onions in butter and continue to toast for 3-4 minutes longer, until couscous is browned and smells nutty.

Add the broth or water and bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Add the beans, cover the pan and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Check couscous for tenderness, if soft all the way through then drain couscous of any remaining liquid. Return to pot. Add the dressing, tomatoes and feta, stir well to coat everything evenly. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts calculated at SparkPeople recipe calculator
Salad only, no dressing 1 Serving
Amount Per Serving

Calories 459.6
Total Fat 9.6 g
Saturated Fat 4.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Cholesterol 25.0 mg
Sodium 308.7 mg
Potassim 294.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 16.6 g
Dietary Fiber 4.8 g
Sugars 0.7 g
Protein 17.7 g

Nutrition Facts calculated at SparkPeople recipe calculator
Lemon herb dressing only -- 3 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 130.5
Total Fat 14.0 g
Saturated Fat 2.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 10.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 96.3 mg
Potassium 14.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 2.9 g
Dietary Fiber 0.1 g
Sugars 2.1 g
Protein 0.1 g


StephenC said...

Peter and I love Israeli couscous and eat it quite often. The mouth feel is wonderful. You can combine it with almost anything.

Sookie said...

Ooh I've always wanted to try israeli couscous. I love the normal couscous... and I always think that the israeli kind looks so beautiful and tasty! I'll have to try your recipe. :)

Karen Harris said...

I love couscous of any variety. I like to use Israeli couscous in my wedding soup because I feel the size is just perfect. Your photos are so pretty. This recipe looks delicious.

Colie's Kitchen said...

Hi this is Nicole from Colie’s Kitchen I just discovered your blog and wanted to drop by and say hi. I am now a new follower. I would love to have you stop by Colie’s Kitchen if you get a chance.

Jenn said...

I can't get Chris to eat couscous, but this is definitely something I will try and my own. The pictures look awesome!!!

Yenta Mary said...

What an absolutely perfect meal - creative, nutritious, colorful, fabulous!!! That the little witch liked it too??? Perfect ... :)

Pam said...

It looks delicious! I've never had it but am going to look for it. This is a must try. Thanks for the info and recipe!

Abeille said...


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Tonya said...

Andrea - this is amazing! What a great healthy lunch idea. I can't wait to try it.

StephenC said...

Are you coming back soon?

Mary said...

This is the first time I've seen a couscous recipe that made me hungry. I love the look of this one. I think I need to try the Israeli version soon! Thanks for the idea!

Care's Kitchen said...

would you believe I picked this up at the store yesterday only to return it to the shelf because I decided I was going to make mashed potatoes instead as a side dish. I regret my decision now...this looks BEAUTIFUL Andrea!!!!

Katie said...

This sounds WONDERFUL.

Courtney said...

This recipe looks really tasty. Just over the weekend when I was in Trader Joe's I was contemplating buying some couscous but then I realized that I had no idea what to pair with it. Thanks for the insight!

Mahmudul Hasan said...

Wow!! looking delicious to me.I definitely try this at my home.
Couscous recipes

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