Jan suggested Israeli couscous as the starch dish to go with my Easter lamb. Ptitim, or “Ben-Gurion rice,” has only a nodding acquaintance with the fine grained couscous of the rest of the Middle East. It was created in the early years of the nation of Israel as a rice substitute.
This is not a recipe that I searched for ahead of time. I sat down and thought about what was in my pantry and what flavors would go with kefir lamb. I added spinach and green onion for the color. As my readers may know me by now, if it doesn’t have garlic is doesn’t have flavor. I added Zatar, for a Middle Eastern twist, and a splash of lemon at the end for brightness.
After Dinner Note: When you first remove the couscous from the pot it will seem gummy. If you let it rest for five minutes, the grains of couscous will finish absorbing the liquid and the gumminess will disappear.
Karl’s Zatar Spinach Israeli Couscous
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
½ cup green onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup Israeli Couscous
1 Tbs. zatar spice blend
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch kosher salt
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1. Add the olive oil to a medium pot and, over a medium high heat, sauté the spinach and onion until wilted, about three minutes.
Tip: Reserve about a tablespoon of the green parts of the onion for garnish.
2. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center. Sauté the garlic for one minute until it is fragrant.
3. Stir in the couscous and sauté for two more minutes.
4. Add the zatar and 1¼ cups of hot water.
Tip: You may use cold water, but hot water prevents overcooking the vegetables while you wait for the water to heat up.
5. Cover the pot and reduce the heat. Simmer for eight minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in the lemon juice, pepper, and salt.
7. Fluff the couscous and transfer it to a serving bowl.
8. Garnish with a few bits of the fresh green onion.