Friday, April 15, 2011

Recipe: Israeli Couscous With Chicken and Vegetables

Let me just say this:  I'm not a huge fan of regular couscous.  It's a textural thing, I think.  Something about the fine granular texture appeals to me much the same way overcooked mushy pasta does.  To each his own, I guess.  The same does not apply to Israeli style couscous.

All couscous is essentially pasta, made from wheat and water.  The difference is that Israeli couscous is rolled into balls about the size of pearled barley or short-grained rice.  They take significantly longer to cook (about 8-10 minutes) and end-up with a nice chew to them like one would expect out of a whole wheatberry or tapioca.  However, the starch that rubs off the outside, if not rinsed, coats the pearls in a sticky sauce reminiscent of risotto.  If you use flavorful stock as the cooking liquid, you can make good use of the built-in sauce.

Unfortunately, Israeli couscous is still considered a newcomer to the supermarket aisles, making it difficult to find and quite a bit more expensive than rice or pasta (like up to $6.99 for a one-pound package).  However, it's worth seeking it out and when you run across a good deal, stock-up on it.

Here's how I like to prepare it:

Israeli Couscous With Chicken & Vegetables
3/4 cup of Israeli Couscous
2 1/4 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
6 boneless chicken tenders (or equivalent breast meat), cut into chunks
2 cups frozen or steamed fresh vegetables
olive oil
salt & pepper

1) In a large pot, sauté the chicken in a little olive oil until it is browned and cooked through.  Remove chicken and put aside on a plate.

2) Add more olive oil, onions, and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions begin to soften.  Add the couscous and garlic to the pan and stir to coat and lightly toast the granules (less than a minute).

3) Add the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a hard simmer (large bubbles).  Simmer 6-8 minutes or until the couscous is almost al-dente.

4) Add the chicken and vegetables and continue to simmer an additional 3-4 minutes until the couscous is al-dente, the veggies are heated through, and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

5) Serve immediately with some toasted crusty bread or a sprinkling of chopped parsley or freshly grated Parmeasan cheese.

1 comment:

  1. I like both kinds of couscous, but Israeli is my favorite. It does have that creamy texture that's really nice. And it's super-easy to make and it's one of my lunch for work staples. It's very affordable if you hit the Whole Foods bulk foods aisle (I always stock up when I go).


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