Jeweled Israeli Couscous

Jeweled Israeli Couscous
 
Ordinary couscous is elevated to the next level with the simple addition of these colorful "mix-in's." This snap-to-prepare dish adds lots of pizazz to your weeknight "sides" and will look gorgeous on your company dinner table or buffet. Not only does this dish travel well, its festive colors, delicious flavors and pleasing textures create a lovely harmony between eye-popping, tasty, chewy and crunchy.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
Couscous Ingredients
  • 4 cups cooked Israeli couscous (regular or whole wheat-also called pearl or “grande”)
  • 1 1/2 cups small cubes or diced butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons toasted chopped pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or mint (or 1 tablespoon each)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas (roasted adds a nice crunch!)
  • Juice of 1 medium orange or large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare and assemble couscous ingredients.
  2. In a cup, combine orange or lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium setting until hot. Sauté butternut squash for about 5 minutes until softened.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Toss in couscous, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, parsley and/or mint, pomegranate seeds and chickpeas.
  5. Stir in orange or lemon juice, olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Continue to stir for a few minutes, just until heated through. Taste; add more salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Serve warm. Or to serve chilled, cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours. May also be served at room temperature.
MPM Mini-Bites
Make Ahead and Storage Tips: can be made up to 1 day ahead. Store covered in the refrigerator. Use leftovers within 2 days. May be served chilled or reheat over low setting until just warmed through. (about 5 minutes) Stir continuously to prevent sticking.

What is Israeli couscous? A larger grain than traditional couscous which can also be called pearl or “grande.” This versatile tiny pasta can be found in most local supermarkets as well as natural and specialty stores such as Whole Foods. Brands to look for are Marrakech Express, Bob’s Red Mill, Casbah and Trader Joe’s.

Pairs beautifully with: Grilled Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki, Mediterranean-Spiced Chicken Thighs and Dijon ‘n Herb-Enrusted Rack of Lamb.
 

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