Israeli (or Jerusalem) couscous consists of small balls of pasta. The balls are larger than the tiny grains of semolina which make up traditional North African couscous. However, these two types of couscous can be used interchangeably in many dishes. The benefits of Israeli couscous are that the grains can be toasted for more flavor and, when cooked properly, the grains have a lovely texture that does not clump and blends nicely with other chopped ingredients.
Couscous, Sweet Red Peppers and Asparagus Salad
Prep Time: 15 min | Cook time: 25 mins | Total time: 40 mins | Serves: 8
- 24 spears asparagus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup peppers, sweet red, chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups couscous, Israeli, about 16 oz
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 3/4 cups stock, chicken
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoons pepper
- 1/2 cup parsley, fresh, minced
1. Wash and trim ends of asparagus. Angle cut spears into thirds. Bring a pot of lightly salted water (just enough to cover spears) to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender. Drain and shock in cold water to stop cooking. Toss with a bit of olive oil (and black pepper if desired). Set aside.
2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and cook until just softened. Remove vegetables from pan.
3. Melt the additional 3 tablespoons butter in the same pan. Add couscous and cinnamon sticks and stir over medium heat, stirring constantly and browning couscous. Couscous will brown unevenly, but at least some of the grains should be medium to dark brown, which will take 5-10 minutes, depending on your pan. As soon as couscous browns, add broth, salt and pepper, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Couscous should be firm but tender.
4. If serving couscous immediately, remove from pan, discard cinnamon sticks, add sautéed vegetables and chopped parsley. Top with asparagus (reheat asparagus first on stove top or microwave if desired) and serve.
5. DO-AHEAD DIRECTIONS: To make ahead, cook through step 2. Spread couscous on wide sheet pan to cool. When cool, mix in sautéed onions/peppers/parsley and place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, transfer to an oven-proof serving dish. Cover tightly and reheat in 350 degree oven for service. Alternatively, reheat in a microwave.
Top with asparagus spears and serve.