Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What to Try Next: Israeli Couscous

I love rice and especially risotto as a side dish.  That creamy, rich goodness is the perfect option to pair with nearly any protein.  Since we always seem to have either rice or potatoes as a side dish, I was looking for an alternative option.  Enter Israeli couscous!  This particular type of pasta is a large pearl shape that cooks up much like instant rice or quinoa.  Add boiling water and simmer about 10 minutes - voila!  By itself, it's plain, but add other ingredients such as a meat, grilled veggies, or cheese, and you have a great main or side dish.

I found a recipe for Israeli couscous with wild mushrooms from one of the most popular and esteemed restaurants in Dallas, Suze.  I loved the idea of sauteed mushrooms and Parmesan cheese added to couscous as these are umami-rich flavors and I use them often in my risotto.  This type of couscous is a larger pearl-shaped pasta that reminds me a bit of tapioca pearls, with a soft texture and starchy consistency.  Adding olive oil following cooking helps combat the sticky starch.

The verdict?  I enjoyed this as an alternative to rice or potatoes and love the versatility of using other ingredients as well.  It would be a great vegetarian main dish or alternative side dish.  Happy eating!

Rich and unctuous

Israeli Couscous with Wild Mushrooms and Parmesan

(adapted from a recipe courtesy of Gibert Garza at Suze Restaurant, Dallas, TX)

For the mushrooms:
2 cups of assorted mushrooms (porcini, shitake, baby bella, etc.), chopped
1/8 cup of chopped thyme
1/2 large shallot, julienned
1/8 cup of olive oil
1/8 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional - omit if cooking vegan)
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley and truffle oil, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the mushrooms and shallots with the oils until softened, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Rough chop with a knife or food processor (don't puree).  Strain excess mushroom liquid out of mixture and set aside, adding to the couscous.  In a mixing bowl, combine the couscous, mushroom mixture, and liquid.  Add the thyme and Parmesan, if using.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley and truffle oil, if using.

For the Couscous:
1 cup of Israeli Couscous (large pearled couscous)
1 1/4 cups boiling water

Bring water to a boil and add couscous.  Stir, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 8 - 10 minutes or until water is nearly absorbed.  While couscous is cooking, prepare mushroom mixture.

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