My Israeli Couscous Almandine is a very popular dish for a potluck or large gathering. Today, however, I am making it just for the three of us. I cut my recipe in half, simplifies it slightly, and switched out pine nuts for the slivered almonds. Wife Jan is on the Noom Program, so she objects to dense starchy dishes. To please her, I make a salad that is mostly vegetables and fruit with just a bit of Israeli couscous.
Note: As my younger sister pointed out, I have not posted since August. This may need a bit of an explanation. No, I have not had Covid, but my kids were concerned about my mental health during the isolation of the pandemic and convinced me to start playing Skyrim. It has been years since I was addicted to playing a video game, but given the choice between posting recipes and slaying dragons, dragons won.
Karl’s Israeli Couscous Salad with Pine Nuts
1 Tbs. butter (or olive oil for Vegan)
½ cups Israeli Couscous
½ can (14.5 oz.) low sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth for Vegan)
See comment in Step 2, before opening a new can of broth.
½ tsp. oregano
1 bay leaf
⅛ tsp. black pepper
* ¼ tsp. salt
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 pine nuts, toasted
1 Persian cucumber, role cut
⅓ cup red bell pepper, ½ inch dice
⅓ cup yellow bell pepper, ½ inch dice
9-10 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 broth, oregano, bay leaf, and pepper.
Tip: Half a can of broth is an inconvenient measure. I decided to use Better than Bouillon, chicken base or Better than Bouillon, Seasoned Vegetable Base as a substitute. If you do this leave out any additional salt and do not use too much—1 teaspoon per cup of liquid.
Note: Better than Bouillon, chicken base is extremely salty. Before Covid most stores carried the low sodium version—while this is still overly salty. Now-a-days, you can only buy these versions on-line.
3. 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 undercook the pasta. Test the pearls and continue cooking until the hard centers of the large couscous pearls are completely soft.
4. 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.
Note: Leave out the salt if, using Better than Bouillon, chicken base.
5. In a small dry skillet toast the pine nuts until lightly browned.
Tip: Set the pine nuts aside to cool.
Note: Remove the nuts from the pan, so that the residual heat does not burn them.
6. Measure and chop the vegetables and fruit into small bite-sized pieces.
7. Add the vegetables, fruit, and dressing to the couscous and toss to coat and combine.
Tip: Let the salad meld for 10 minutes.
8. Serve slightly chilled.