Saturday, June 25, 2011

Israeli Couscous with Peas and Asparagus

For some reason, I had never bough Israeli (also called pearl) couscous until a couple of days ago. If you've never tried it, I suggest you go out and buy some. I love the texture and flavor and am now hooked. I don't think I'll be buying traditional couscous for a while. These larger pieces of couscous make for a heartier meal, and you will notice the difference in this dish if you use regular couscous (it'll still be good, but not as delicious).

I went to the farmer's market over the weekend and picked up some fresh asparagus. I am loving all the produce available at the farmer's market and can't wait for even more fresh produce. Instead of making my usual summer asparagus (grilled with some olive oil and topped with Parmesan), I decided to make this recipe. My sister had tried it once before and loved the flavor combination, and since we like a lot of similar food, I took her word for it. This is a great summer meal or side dish. It's really light, and full of veggies, but does not come across as healthy tasting (maybe I'm crazy, but some things just taste healthy, and end up bland and boring). This also tastes great the next day if you don't eat it all at once.

Adapted from Bon Appetite

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cups Israeli/pearl couscous (about 7 ounces/200 grams)
1 3/4 cups (or more) chicken or vegetable broth
14 ounces asparagus spears, trimmed and cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (can use fresh if you feel like shelling peas)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of oil, the lemon juice, and one garlic clove. Set aside.

Over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan. Add the couscous and a sprinkle of salt and toast the couscous until it begins to turn golden (about 5 minutes). Add the broth and increase heat. Once boiling, cover and simmer over low heat until the couscous is cooked and the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.

While the couscous is simmering, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the asparagus, sugar snap peas, green peas, and 1 garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Place the vegetable in a large bowl, add the couscous, dressing, chives, and parmesan. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Can be eaten warm or cold.

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