Friday, September 24, 2010

Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Spring Vegetables

I'm a huge fan of couscous, but this recipe for Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Spring Vegetables from the April, 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine is one of the few times I have cooked with Israeli couscous. I know the recipe is titled "Spring Vegetables", but I had no problem finding these ingredients in early fall (I used frozen peas). For some reason, to me Israeli couscous seems more foreign than regular couscous - maybe because of I have made tons of recipes with regular couscous. But I fed this to two people who "don't like couscous" and they never wrinkled their noses once! They both really loved it. To them it tastes more like pasta and they like the texture of this larger couscous than regular.

The flavors of this dish are somewhat strong - the saffron and kalamata olives really come through. In fact it was a bit to saffron-y for me at first. But this was a really healthy and tasty dish that lasted well for leftover lunches and side dishes at dinner for the rest of the week.

Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Olives, and Spring Vegetables
Serves 6

2 cups dry Israeli couscous
4 tsp. canola oil
2 bulbs fennel, slivered, grated, or finely chopped (1 cup)
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts finely chopped (1/2 cup)
6 cloves garlic, chopped (2 Tbs.)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (1 cup)
2 0.25-g. pkg. saffron threads
2 cups baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup chopped, pitted oil-cured or kalamata olives
3 Tbs. olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, leek, and garlic, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute to deglaze pan. Add peas, and let wine reduce 1 minute more, then add broth. Add couscous, tomatoes, and saffron; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in arugula, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Spoon into bowls, then top with olives, olive oil, and basil.

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