Israeli couscous has been a favorite of mine for years. It has very little flavor but enhances the ingredients and spices that are combined with it. Israeli couscous, or pearl couscous, is made from whole grain wheat flour so it is essentially pasta that has been extruded through a press in the shape of tiny balls, or pearls. When it is made, it is toasted rather than drying it like other pastas; this gives it a bit of a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. Israeli couscous can be added to soups, salads, vegetables or any recipe in which you want to add interest.
Spiced Israeli Couscous with Grape Tomatoes and Wild Mushrooms can be served as a side dish or as a main dish for lunch. In this recipe, I use a selection of wild mushrooms to give it variety. I used oyster mushrooms cut into bite-sized pieces, sliced shitake and a few creminis. The shitake mushrooms shrink a lot so add extras and don’t slice them to thinly if you use them. One could use all cremini mushrooms for convenience since they are available at all grocery stores.
To make Spiced Israeli Couscous with Grape Tomatoes and Wild Mushrooms, I start by pulling out the flavors from the spices in hot oil. The shallots are then cooked in the spiced oil. The grape tomatoes are cut in half and added to the pot; they are cooked just until they start to lose their structure. I like to see that they are really tomatoes and not just red specks in the food that I serve. Next it is time to add the mushrooms and cook them until they become tender. During this time, the sauce will start to thicken.
Before boiling the couscous, I roast it in a dry skillet it to give it more flavor. After it is boiled, I add it to the pot along with a bit of cilantro and toasted cashews. The cooked couscous absorbs the flavor from the sauce creating a very tasty dish.
The recipe for Spiced Israeli Couscous with Grape Tomatoes and Wild Mushrooms is very simple but the flavors are delicious. Enjoy!