Couscous is a staple ingredient in dishes from Morocco and North Africa and is very popular around the world and now found in a variety of recipes. It consists of semolina flour and is traditionally steamed then combined with meats, chicken or fish along with plenty of flavor ingredients and lots of mixed vegetables.
Couscous are small pearl rounds made of semolina, while Israeli couscous (which are large pearl rounds) was said to be invented in Israel during the austerity period (1949-1959) when Jewish refugees immigrated to Israel. The founder of Osem food company was asked to create a substitute for rice so he came up with this product they called Ptitim, an ingredient we know today as Israeli large pearl couscous.
Cooking traditional “instant” small pearl couscous is relatively simple when done as instructed per the package directions. The best way to cook “instant” couscous requires a minimum of two steamings of about 20 minutes each and a final steaming of 10 minutes (you can steam with water or broth.)
NOTE: The word “couscous” came about from the hissing noise the pan makes as the steam from the pan rises through the grains.
To steam the couscous, place a steamer lined with muslin on the stove top and add the grains into the muslin. After each steaming, remove and the couscous grains from the steamer to place in a large wide bowl then quickly whisk, rake with a fork and douse with a light drizzle of oil (vegetable or grape seed) and a bit of water or broth to keep the grains firm.
il couscous vegetale arrostita mediterranea israeliana
2-4 baby purple Italian eggplant or chinese eggplant
3 to 4 ripe Roma tomatoes, 1 container of sweet grape tomatoes or container of cherry tomatoes
1 container of baby bella or white button mushrooms, quartered fresh garlic cloves (2-3 to taste)
1 small red or sweet yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 zucchini, cut into chunks
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3-4 stalks celery and celery leaves, cleaned and chopped
2-3 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow and orange), cleaned and chopped into small chunks
olive oil (vegetable or grape seed oil are great options)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2- 2 cups large pearl Israeli couscous
vegetable or chicken unsalted stock
Prepare, clean and chop all the vegetables into bite-size pieces and roast as directed in my roasted vegetable recipe. Once roasted as directed, place in a covered bowl and set aside.
Once the couscous steams and is cooked through, take the roasted vegetables and mix them into the cooked couscous until well blended. Add some stock or oil as needed if the mixture looks too dry. Taste the mixture and add seasonings to your personal taste.
Place in a large serving bowl and chop some fresh parsley leaves right before serving. Serve immediately at room temperature with roasted meats, fish or chicken and a vegetable salad of your choice on the side. This recipe serves about 6 to 8 people based on a 1/2 cup serving each.
NOTE: I make this dish a day or so before serving so the flavors meld as they sit in the refrigerator Remove the couscous about 15-20 minutes before serving; you can reheat, if desired, to remove the chill as well.
وجبة شهية. (Buon Appetito!)
Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti