It’s only recently that I’ve developed a favouritism for Israeli couscous. Not one who usually chooses starchy carbohydrates over whole grains I never gave it a nibble. I resolved that it was just fancy couscous that you were only served in fancy restaurants who wanted to put couscous on the menu only with a more glamorous name. And then -I ate it at work, when a not-so-fancy-chef cooked it and I realised that it’s not fancy at all; it’s just good.
Actually, it came as quite a surprise to me that I so thoroughly enjoyed it- after all it does have an uncanny resemblance to frog spawn. But the nutty flavour and highly satisfying squeaky noise it made when I chewed won me over. It’s so much nicer than the grainy texture of normal couscous that just slips down your gob with no necessity to chew- it has more depth and it’s much more filling. Of course, it does take more effort to cook than bog standard couscous- I mean you can’t just pour over boiling water and come back to it; you actually have to cook it, people! The horror! Being a cooking blog though, I decided that this really wasn’t too much to ask of my readers- especially given the fact that it only takes ten minutes to do and because you’ve had weeks of no oven required recipes whilst my faulty oven situation drags on. And on.
Feel free to substitute the apricots for other dried fruits or cooked chicken and the nuts as you please- I won’t hate you, mine are only suggestions. There is a simple recipe and a more involved recipe. And when I say involved I’m referring to the fact that you’ll have to open up your cupboards and search through your spice jars. Is that really too much to ask?
Sweet & Savoury Israeli Couscous
This is one of those dishes, which is so full of good things that you could easily eat a bowl of it on it’s own- but it’s also remarkably adaptable and will go with just about any cut of meat as a side dish. The spices are optional but if you have them in your cupboard then I highly recommend you using them. You can easily keep this for a couple of days in the fridge.
Serves: 2 as a main, 3-4 as a side dish
Difficulty: Is-really cous-ceasy (you blame my father on my sense of humour)
50g/1 cup Israeli couscous
375ml/1 1/2 cups water
50g/1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
35g/1/4 cup nuts, roughly chopped ( I used marcona almonds & raw pistachios)
handful/ 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley and mint (or substitute in cilantro)
3 skinny spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
zest 1 lemon
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp chili powder
pinch ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1/ Place the couscous and water in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir and let simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Rinse thoroughly under cold water to get rid of some of the starch.
2/ Mix in the remaining ingredients- and the optional extras if desired. Season to taste.