Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Israeli Couscous Salad

I have a 2 day per MONTH job. That definitely qualifies for "part-time"status! I test recipes for the Georgia Dept of Agriculture. The recipes are sent in by readers of the Farmer's and Consumer's Market Bulletin. After I test (or simply prepare) the recipes, I edit them and send them back to the Ag Dept for printing in the Market Bulletin. In some circles, it is quite "prestigous" to have your recipe printed in the MB!

Today, the recipes threw me a curve. It turned out to be a learning curve! One of the recipes called for Israeli couscous. I was quite familiar with African couscous - the tiny type found in boxes of couscous mixes in the grain aisle of the grocery store. But I had to dig some to learn about Israeli couscous. Here is what I found:
"Israeli Couscous is a small, round semolina pasta that should not be confused with the tiny, yellow North African couscous; it is a different animal altogether! Sometimes called pearl couscous or maftoul, it resembles barley, or very small, white peas.
After being shaped and rolled into small balls, these semolina pearls are toasted in an open-flame oven. This distinguishes the couscous from most pasta, which is dried but not toasted. Toasting lends the couscous a distinctive, nutty flavor and particularly satisfying mouth-feel, and it also seals in the starch and reinforces the exterior, allowing the pearls to absorb liquid without falling apart. This is why Israeli couscous is ideal for saucy preparations whatever the sauce or reduction, the couscous absorbs the flavor beautifully, and the sauce sticks well to every tiny pearl."

After learning what I was looking for, I set off to "town" in search of this new product. My first stop was Wal Mart where I found all the other ingredients for the 5 recipes I will test this month. Of course, there was no Israeli couscous there. But, wonder of all wonders, I stopped in at Ingles and found it! It was in the produce dept in a line of self serve dispensers along with nuts, grains, granola, etc. Eureka! Israeli couscous in Murphy, NC!!! I would have never bet on that!!

Here's the recipe I made tonite for dinner so my fellow taste tester/husband could pass judgement. The recipe was a BIG hit! You might want to try it yourself.

Israeli Couscous and Veggies
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped red or yellow pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
Extra virgin olive oil, optional

Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add couscous. Cover tightly and remove from heat. Let stand for 20 to 25 minutes (while you chop veggies). Stir in veggies. Drizzle olive oil over before serving, if desired.

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