Tag Archives: couscous

Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon

Seasoned to Taste - Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon and Mushrooms

Israeli couscous is like a better orzo – pearls of chewy starch that mix deliciously with both rich and light flavors – from citrus and herbs to bacon, mushrooms and leeks.

I have to admit that the only recipe I used was the liquid-to-couscous measurements on the back of the package, adding in my cooked mushrooms, bacon and onion at the end. What I’ve written below is my best recollection – please adjust to your pleasing.

And of course, truffle oil is optional. I received some as a birthday gift, so I’ve been drizzling it on everything. A simple olive oil or infused oil would be tasty, too. Just a little drizzle to make the couscous sparkle when serving.

Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 package or about 2 c. Israeli couscous
  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 c. sliced mushrooms (I usually use cremini or shiitake)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Truffle oil, to taste, or olive oil

In medium sauce pan, heat 2 T olive oil over medium, then add shallot. When it starts to brown, add couscous and stir to coat in oil. When couscous begins to toast, 2-3 min, add chicken stock and pinch salt and pepper. Stir, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for 10-12 min, until water is absorbed and couscous is tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile, heat medium skillet over medium-high and saute bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and add sliced mushrooms to bacon fat in skillet. Saute until nicely browned (they will release a lot of moisture), 7-8 min.

When couscous is done, fluff it with a fork, then add mushrooms, bacon, scallions and salt/pepper to taste. Transfer to serving platter and drizzle with truffle oil.

Seasoned to Taste - Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon and Mushrooms

Yum! It’s almost hearty enough for it’s own meal and the leftovers were my lunch the following day.

To actually make this a meal, I would serve the couscous over a bed of your favorite greens and place a soft-cooked egg on top, so you can break the yolk and let it spill over, creating a creamy sauce. Oh man, that sounds good!

When I made this, it was a side dish for some grilled sausages on toasted baguette with a chimichurri sauce:

Seasoned to Taste - Truffled Israeli Couscous with Bacon and Mushrooms

What a delightful way to spend a weekend day – just cooking and eating with friends who live within walking distance. I can’t tell you how important it is to live in a close-knit neighborhood, for these kind of spontaneous lunch or dinner parties.

Enjoy, friends, xoxo

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Couscous Cakes with Artichokes, Feta and Creamy Mint Sauce

Let me begin by saying that I love anything with artichokes. Growing up, my birthday dinner always included steamed artichokes, which provided tender leaves for me to pluck off and dunk in a lemon-butter sauce.

While artichokes don’t play a prominent role in this recipe, they add a certain olfactory nostalgia when I get a bite that includes the crispy couscous cake, tender artichoke and lemony mint dressing.

This recipe is a pleasant surprise that I easily made on a weeknight with some leftover couscous – remember my risotto cakes? Yeah, using leftovers in this fashion is amazing!

You start by mixing cooked couscous with lemon zest, eggs and a puree of chickpeas, parsley and garlic. Then you press them into 1/4 cup measuring cups  and pan fry them until golden on each side. The egg holds them together quite well – I only had one cake fall apart a bit. THEN you place them on a salad of lettuce (I used bibb lettuce), tomatoes, artichoke hearts and a delicious sauce made of sour cream, mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Finish with a sprinkling of feta cheese.

I think Grant was a disbeliever when he first saw me making this, but then the smells got him salivating and he ended up loving it.

Another splendid recipe from my Fine Cooking magazine that I can’t put down!

Couscous Cakes with Artichokes, Feta and Creamy Mint Sauce

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

For the dressing –

  • 2 T fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 T low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp finely chopped mint leaves (it grows like a weed around here)
  • 5 T EVOO
  • Salt and pepper

For the couscous cakes –

  • 3/4 c. couscous
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic glove, peeled
  • 1/4 c. packed Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 14-oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 T canola oil

For the salad –

  • Lettuce of your choice (spinach works well, or Romaine or bibb)
  • 14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and sliced (I used Trader Joe’s frozen artichoke quarters and just thawed them and drained them)
  • 1 c. chopped fresh tomato (or cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 oz. crumbled feta cheese

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, sour cream and mint. Slowly whisk in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Bring chicken stock to boil, then add 1 tsp salt and couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then set aside to cool (or make ahead!)

In a food processor, add garlic and parsley, pulsing until chopped. Add chickpeas and 1 tsp salt and pulse until blended together.

In a medium bowl, mix together the chickpea mixture, couscous, eggs and lemon zest. Press mixture into 1/4-cup measure and invert to release the cake. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Heat 1 1/2 T oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add enough cakes to fit, flattening them with a spatula a bit. Cook, flipping once, until browned on each side, then remove to a paper-towel lined plate to cool. Repeat with remaining cakes, adding more oil as necessary.

To assemble the salad, place lettuce on a plate, then tomatoes, artichokes and cakes. Drizzle with creamy mint sauce and finish with a sprinkling of feta.

So good! Just right for a warm night – eating outside or in front of the TV for the season finale of Mad Men (eeeek!).


Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Greek Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken

Good lord I love couscous. Perhaps as much as I love its long-legged cousin, pasta. A simple vehicle for great flavors and seasonings. My friend Krissy recently transformed couscous into a delicious Greek-inspired salad that I have since made twice and call it my favorite fresh hot-weather meal. Because when it’s in the 90s, with 90% humidity, you just want something that can be served chilled. With a tall glass of iced tea or white wine.

Nothing satisfies more than crisp cucumber, juicy tomato, sweet basil, crumbly feta and the crunch of spring onions.

I found these cool purple spring onions at the farmers’ market, and they tasted a bit sharper than a shallot, but the greens were like scallions.

Really, any onion will do. Krissy made hers with store-bought rotisserie chicken, which is wonderful. I, however, was feeling cheap, so I roasted my own chicken.

Please see this recipe as just a loose representation of something I created adding a bit of this and a splash of that. Go on, do the same!

Greek Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • 2 or 3 split chicken breasts, with skin (you’ll have leftovers, so just roast all of it)
  • EVOO
  • Kosher salt, pepper
  • Cooked couscous (made using 1 c. uncooked couscous, but made with chicken stock instead of water – follow package instructions)
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 small cucumber or half large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/3 c. sliced red onion, shallot or spring onions
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 c. chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 c. EVOO, whisked with 4 T fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons) and pinch S&P.

Preheat oven to 425 and line baking sheet with foil. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until skins are crispy and chicken is just cooked through, roughly 30 min (gah! I didn’t pay attention to the time! I just waited until I could smell it and the skin was golden, then I took it out and sliced into a thick portion, revealing clear juices and tender meat. Perfect!).

Meanwhile, prep all your veggies and cook the couscous. Add cucumber, tomato, onion, basil and feta to a medium bowl. Pour vinaigrette over and set aside.

When couscous has cooled to room temperature, add it to the vegetable mixture and toss to incorporate (hot couscous will melt the feta).

When chicken is done, allow to cool 15-20 min., then slice away from bone and into chunks. To serve, spoon couscous salad onto plates, then top with chicken. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, few cracks of pepper and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt.

This is so delicious. All the different textures scream SUMMER! We ate ours outside on the newly beautified front patio, just before the hot winds blew in a thunder storm.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Mediterranean Night

It was a night punctuated by feta, yogurt and ouzo shots. Our monthly supper club fell on Grant and me this time, for which we hosted a Mediterranean theme that included lamb kebabs, couscous salad, curried hummus, spanikopita, Greek salad, tabouleh salad and Greek-yogurt cheesecake with ouzo-soaked figs.

The evening began in the back garden, where we enjoyed cocktails and Megan/Raf’s spicy curried hummus with toasted pita chips. It was amazing and I need the recipe immediately.

We also nibbled on Theresa’s spanikopita. Ouzo shots happened for those who dared.

Dinner brought us inside for a trio of fresh salads…my couscous consisted of the little pearls simply tossed with lemon juice, EVOO, S&P, cucumber, basil, tomatoes, shallots and feta cheese.

Main dish was our lamb kebabs (marinated overnight with yogurt, juice and zest of 2 lemons, 1/4 c. EVOO, garlic, rosemary, S&P), grilled over all-wood charcoal.

After eating and drinking way too much, we moved on to dessert: Seton’s lovely Greek yogurt cheesecake with a melba-toast crust and an ouzo-fig sauce spooned on top.

The cheesecake was spicy from the cinnamon and the fig/ouzo combo was wonderful on top.

The dinner made me excited for the annual Greek festival held in Winston-Salem, where we all can drool over souvlaki and dark-headed lookers.

Enjoy your next dinner party, friends! xoxo

Curried couscous

Whenever I can’t think of a side dish, I reach for the couscous. Made in 5 minutes and seasoned any way you like it, this funny little pasta is great as a salad, side or something to soak up meat juices. I normally make mine with a little toasted pine nuts, green onions, parsley and golden raisins. For a recent meal that included East Indian fare, I reached for Ina Garten’s curried couscous.

It is a peculiar recipe – using yogurt, olive oil and lots of spices. I thought it tasted too sour and salty when I mixed the seasonings together, but it all worked when delicately folded into the fluffy cous.

I altered the recipe a bit to my liking – feel free to explore!

Curried Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (low-sodium)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then add stock. When boiling, add couscous and stir. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the parsley, raisins, almonds and scallions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo