I’m barbecuing a Nevis jerked chicken for the Fourth of July and I wanted some side dishes to go with the heavy meat main dish. With two vegetable dishes—corn and grilled vegetables—decided upon, I needed something with a bit of starch. Wife Jan is on the Noom Program, so she objects to dense starchy dishes. To please her, I chose to make a Israeli couscous salad packed full of vegetables and fruit.
Note: Almondine means to garnish with almonds.
After Dinner Note: While my diners liked the corn and grilled vegetables, this salad was the hit of the meal. Everyone had seconds.
Karl’s Israeli Couscous Almandine
2 Tbs. butter (or olive oil for Vegan)
1 ½ cups Israeli Couscous
¼ cup green onion, sliced thinly
1 can (14.5 oz.) low sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth for Vegan)
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. lemon juice
½ Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch Kosher salt
¼ cup sliced almonds
½ tsp. butter (or olive oil for Vegan)
1 Persian cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
¾ cup red bell pepper, ½ inch dice
¾ cup yellow bell pepper, ½ inch dice
¼ cup Zante currents
7-9 black mission figs, stemmed and quartered
1. Melt the butter in a medium pan and toast the couscous over a medium heat until many of the pasta pearls are starting to brown.
Tip: You want to start the couscous early so that it can cool completely before you add the vegetables and fruit.
2. Add the green onion and continue to toast the couscous until the pearls are well browned and the onions are wilted.
3. Add the broth, oregano, bay leaf, and pepper.
4. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has been absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
Tip: After the pasta is cooked you can set the pot in the refrigerator to speed the cooling process.
Note: Do not under cook the pasta. Test the pearls and continue cooking until the hard centers of the large couscous pearls are completely soft.
5. Put the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, pepper, and salt in a small lidded jar and shake to combine.
Tip: Shake the jar occasionally to keep the dressing emulsified.
6. Heat the butter or oil in a small skillet and toast the almonds until well browned.
Tip: Set the almonds aside to cool.
Note: Remove the almonds from the pan, so that the residual heat does not burn the almonds.
7. Measure and chop the vegetables and fruit into small bite-sized pieces.
8. Add most of the almonds, the vegetables, fruit, and dressing to the couscous and toss to coat and combine.
Tip: Let the salad meld for 10 minutes.
9. Garnish the salad with the remaining almonds and serve slightly chilled.