Aug 6, 2008

Israeli Couscous Salad

Lest you think we've just been eating ice cream around here, here's a little something more savory with shiny green veggies in it.

I clipped this recipe from Everyday Food magazine (a Martha publication) recently. I have to admit, I clipped it for my food styling inspiration file, not my recipe file. But then I seriously looked at the recipe and got seduced by the combination of flavors: green beans, feta, cucumber, pistachios, and golden raisins on a bed of Israeli couscous. Wrap your head around that one. Cool, a little crunchy, a little sweet, a little salty. And with big fat Israeli couscous.

Do you know about Israeli couscous? Most people think couscous are a grain. They look like a grain. But are actually a kind of pasta. Israeli couscous are larger than regular or Moroccan couscous, about the size of peppercorns. If your kids are into bubble tea, these are their perfect savory counterpart. Bubble pasta.

The Everyday Food recipe called for a red wine vinegar dressing. I tried that but it seemed really sharp to me. Admittedly, I'm not a big red wine vinegar fan. It seemed to separate the ingredients instead of bringing them together. So I experimented with a dressing of brown rice vinegar (you might sub rice wine or champagne vinegar, if you don't have brown rice vinegar) and agave with a little olive oil. The agave brought out the sweetness of the golden raisins and the softer tang of the brown rice vinegar had all those ingredients rounded up, holding hands and singing together in no time.

The recipe also calls for English cucumbers. Sometimes you'll also see "hothouse" cucumbers. They are thinner-skinned, usually smaller and skinnier than those fat daddies you see in the summer, have fewer seeds and are milder. I like them because you don't have to peel them. They're easier and and more gently flavored.

This is cool, refreshing and unexpected. Makes a great lunch or picnic food too. The kind of thing you'd want to eat at the beach. And it's pretty. Did I mention that?

Israeli Couscous Salad

1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1/2 pound - 3/4 pound green beans, ends trimmed off, cut into bite-size pieces
1 English or hothouse cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced into bite-size pieces
1 cup (4 ounces) feta, crumbled
1 cup pistachios, toasted
2/3 cup golden raisins
4 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup (or to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Cook the couscous in a large pot of boiling water for about 4 minutes.

While you're waiting on this, combine the brown rice vinegar, agave and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk together. Add a shot of salt and pepper and whisk again. Set aside.

After the couscous have been boiling for 4 minutes, add the green beans and cook another 2 minutes until the green beans are tender but still crisp. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water to cool.

In a large bowl, pour your cooled and drained green beans and couscous.

Add the cucumber chunks, feta, pistachios and raisins. Toss together. Add your dressing and toss again. Taste it. Adjust with another shot of vinegar, agave, salt or pepper to your liking.

Serves 4.

Adapted from Everyday Food magazine.

1 comment:

Jmi said...

Hi - I love this salad but can't find the original recipe. Is there any chance you still have the Everyday food reference (month/year or issue number?