If you love couscous, what's better than eating those delicate little grains of pasta? Eating bigger grains of couscous! Otherwise known as pearl couscous or Israeli couscous, it's chewier and heartier than regular couscous and makes the perfect base for adding vegetables or meat. My super intern Christina Regon, not to be confused with my other wonderful contributor Christina Nelson, created this recipe using fresh summer produce including juicy sweet peaches now available everywhere. Christina R. is studying to be a dietitian and is a foodie and former restaurant co-owner. This dish would perfectly complement barbequed chicken or fish or taste delicious solo as a light lunch. When I recreated the recipe, I was able to find all of the produce and herbs at one farm stand. Feel free to use whatever ripe produce you like as just about anything works. I made a few minor changes such as using regular Israeli couscous because I couldn't find whole wheat. I also substituted sliced almonds for the pine nuts, which have a hefty price tag. Even at Trader Joe's, which has the cheapest high-quality nuts around, they cost $7.99 for 8 ounces. No big loss, the almonds worked beautifully. I also cut the oil to about 3 tablespoons. This recipe is easy and kept my 3-year-old son Jake, who has now graduated to Master Stirrer, quite busy!
(Makes about 4-6 servings)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups whole wheat giant pearl couscous (Israeli couscous)
Vegetable or low-sodium chicken stock (enough to cover toasted couscous for simmering)
2 T lemon juice
1 T balsamic, sherry or rice vinegar
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1-1 1/2 cups peaches, cut into wedges
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup bell peppers or radishes, sliced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
10-12 basil leaves, cut in pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add couscous and toast, stirring, until couscous is golden brown (about 2 minutes). Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover with lid, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender but firm and chewy (4-6 minutes). You may need to add more broth or water if the couscous is drying out before it’s tender.
- Remove from heat and transfer couscous to a large bowl, fluffing with a fork. Stir in remaining olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
- Once couscous has cooled, transfer mixture to large bowl and add remaining ingredients.