Friday, April 26, 2013

Whole Foods Feasting: Israeli Cousous Salad

Have you ever looked at Israeli couscous and wondered what to do with it? It's an interesting product - little balls of toasted pasta, and the one I bought was a tri-color version. The colors weren't vivid, but that's fine. The subtle color variations were nice.

The directions for cooking the couscous suggested cooking it like rice, in a small amount of water, but I'd suggest cooking it like pasta, in a larger quantity of boiling salted water, and draining ti when it's done.

The problem with cooking it like rice, particularly at high altitude, is that you need to have exactly the right amount of water or you'll have to add more water, or you risk having it stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

I used capers because I like them, but the bonus is that capers are about the same size as the couscous, so they look like another color of the couscous.

Just like other types of pasta, Israeli couscous is good warm or cold. I made a hearty cold couscous salad with garbanzo beans (chickpeas) that makes a nice salad with an entree, or it can be a light lunch, I also made a warm version, like a pilaf, with cooked vegetables. It's perfect as a hot side dish, but it also works at room temperature or cold,

The couscous I bought came in a package of about 11 1/2 ounces, but a little more or less isn't critical.

This makes a lot of salad - about 2 quarts - which would be great for a party or potluck. Halve it if it's for a small family dinner. This keeps well, and I think it's even better the next day, after the flavors have melded.

Israeli Couscous Salad

About 12 ounces Israeli couscous, cooked
2 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans
2 tomatoes, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 tablespoons capers
1 onion, very small dice
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon dry marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary
1/4 cup lemon olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 ounce chevre
1 can (6 ounces. drained) pitted black olives, sliced
Salt, as needed

When you're prepping the vegetables, cut the onions very small, and the rest of the vegetables in a slightly larger dice.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir. I like to add the pasta while it's still a little warm, which helps it absorb the flavors. Taste for seasoning and add salt, as needed. Since the olives, capers, and cheese are salty, and the pasta is cooked in salted water, you might not need more salt.

Refrigerate until needed, and serve chilled.

This post is sponsored by Whole Foods.