Couscous — For the Heart and Palate

The French tended to blend into the lives of their colonies, adapting customs, dress and especially foods. Moroccan couscous became a great favorite, and was quickly added to the more exotic branch of French cuisine.

Actually, archeologists and historians have found evidence that couscous originated in 10th century West Africa. This tasty grain dish pops up next in a 13th century Berber cookbook, puts in an appearance in 17th century Brittany, and eventually proliferates throughout half the world.

In France, it is often prepared as a fluffy mélange with meat, vegetables, nuts and spices. Israel developed a larger, more flavorful couscous, which became the “it-grain” in U.S. kitchens in the late 1990s. Israeli couscous has versatile functions, from sautéed side dish to salad, in soup, as a risotto-style meal, and even as a layered bed for baked fish or chicken.

Made of whole semolina grains, Israeli couscous can be found in most food stores.

Sautéed Israeli Couscous – (use organic ingredients whenever possible)

Serves 4 or more

  • 1 – eight-ounce package of Israeli couscous
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1⁄2 small onion, diced
  • 4 ounces of white or crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt (optional) and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

IN A MEDIUM size, stainless steel saucepan, heat the olive oil for 10 seconds. Add diced onions and mushrooms and sauté until tender. Add the Israeli couscous and toast for a minute or two. Add the broth, salt and pepper and simmer covered for about 8 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is al dente.

Mix in the chopped parsley and serve as a side dish, or make a ‘bed’ and place on it a simultaneously poached or baked fish—or roasted or baked chicken.

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