Food & Drink Magazine

Bejeweled Israeli Couscous with Preserved Lemons, Pine Nuts & Dried Fruits

By Weavethousandflavors

Israeli coucous-02

Have you got a jar full of preserved lemons in the refrigerator patiently awaiting your brilliance?

I do! And this is one of my favorite sides to serve with my Moroccan lamb but it can be served with just about anything. And I highly recommend you make this when friends are  over.

So I admit that this recipe has a few steps to it – it’s a lot like so many Italian pasta recipes which are a sum of their  parts.

The first step is roasting the butternut squash chunks in the oven with olive oil. The couscous is cooked in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes and sieved. Onions are chopped & sautéed, pine nuts are roasted , the preserved lemon needs chopping and the whole thing is then mixed together in a large mixing bowl along with freshly chopped parsley, dried cherries and golden raisins.

I know you think its sounds uber complicated but stop already!

You can prep the steps throughout the day or begin the previous day and just combine the ingredients the day of.

The nice thing is once the couscous is put together, you’re done. It can be served directly at room temperature & each bite is like a wonderful hidden surprise – every spoonful presents a different flavor depending on what’s in your spoon.

 Now doesn’t that sound good!

Gather the ingredients,

3 cups Israeli (or Palestinian) couscous pearls, 1 cinnamon stick, 1/2 tbs salt, 7-8 cups water for cooking couscous, 1-1/2 lbs butternut squash, skinned & cleaned, 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tbs ground black pepper

Also, 1 large red onion (to yield 1- 1/2 cup chopped), 1 preserved lemon, 1/3 cup pine nuts, 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup golden raisins, 2 tbs olive oil & 1-1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves packed

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Couscous collage-1

Butternut Squash: Cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Spread the butternut in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Insert thyme sprigs on the pan. Roast for about 25 minutes until the squash is soft. Toss once with a spoon during roasting. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile,

Couscous collage-2

Couscous: Bring a stock pot of water to boil with salt and the cinnamon stick. Add the couscous and cook on a rolling boil for 10 minutes - al dente similar to pasta. Stir for the first few minutes. Drain in a sieve but do not run water through. Remove the couscous to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Couscous collage-3

Pine nuts: Place in a microwave safe bowl. On high, toast for 30 secs at which point the pine nuts will turn oil. Stir. Return for another 45 seconds and stir. Repeat one more time. Remove the toasted pine nuts to a bowl lined with kitchen paper towels. Cool.

Onion: Peel, discard skin and cut away the ends. Finely chop and set aside.

Couscous collage-4

Preserved lemon: Slice into thin 1/8" strips and then finely chop.

Parsley: Discard stalks and finely chop.

Couscous collage-5

In a saute pan, add the olive oil and heat until hot. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt and saute for 7-10 minutes until softened. Add the pine nuts, chopped lemon, cherries and raisins and saute for a minute or so just to warm through. Remove from heat.

Couscous collage-6

To the couscous in the mixing bowl, add the butternut squash and with a wooden spoon, combine, breaking up any couscous clumps.

Add the onions mixture & chopped parsley and thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Cover with cling wrap and set aside. Serve at room temperature. Can be made several hours before serving time but I do not recommend preparing overnight.

Israeli coucous-03

 

Recipe for

Israeli Couscous with Preserved lemons, Dried Cherries & Pine nuts

Serves 4-6

Shopping list

3 cups Israeli (or Palestinian) couscous pearls

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 tbs salt

7-8 cups water for cooking couscous

1-1/2 lbs butternut squash, skinned & cleaned

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tbs ground black pepper

1 large red onion (to yield 1- 1/2 cup chopped)

1 preserved lemon

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup golden raisins

2 tbs olive oil

1-1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves packed

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Butternut Squash: Cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Spread the butternut in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Insert thyme sprigs on the pan. Roast for about 25 minutes until the squash is soft. Toss once with a spoon during roasting. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile,

Couscous: Bring a deep stock pot of water to boil with salt and the cinnamon stick. Add the couscous and cook on a rolling boil for 10 minutes - al dente similar to pasta. Stir for the first few minutes. Drain in a sieve but do not run water through. Remove the couscous to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Pine nuts: Place in a microwave safe bowl. On high, toast for 30 secs at which point the pine nuts will turn oil. Stir. Return for another 45 seconds and stir. Repeat one more time. Remove the toasted pine nuts to a bowl lined with kitchen paper towels. Cool.

Onion: Peel, discard skin and cut away the ends. Finely chop and set aside.

Preserved lemon: Slice into thin 1/8" strips and then finely chop.

Parsley: Discard stalks and finely chop.

Method:

In a saute pan, add the olive oil and heat until hot. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt and saute for 7-10 minutes until softened. Add the pine nuts, chopped lemon, cherries and raisins and saute for a minute or so just to warm through. Remove from heat.

To the couscous in the mixing bowl, add the butter nut squash and with a wooden spoon, combine, breaking up any couscous clumps.

Add the onions mixture & chopped parsley and thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Cover with cling wrap and set aside. Serve at room temperature. Can be made several hours before serving time but I do not recommend preparing overnight.

Enjoy!


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