Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pearl Couscous Pilaf with Kalamata Olives and Sundried Tomatoes

I love a dish that I can throw together in a hurry, especially one that can be customized and changed, depending on what I have on hand. This is something I came across in a magazine in a waiting room ages ago. I committed it to memory and have changed it so much it bears little resemblance to what was on the page (I don't even remember all the original ingredients). This was the first time I'd made it in this configuration and it's probably my favorite. The only new thing I bought for it was the sundried tomatoes. Everything else was in the fridge left over from other stuff and waiting to be used up. It's an easy, one-pot dish that takes almost no time at all. Play around with substitutions and amounts until you find that combination you like.

Pearl couscous (also called Israeli couscous) is just a bigger form of couscous. I like using it because it holds flavors together better than the smaller stuff. It's substantial enough that I usually make this into a light dinner, though it's definitely good for a side dish as well.


1 cup pearl couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped and pitted kalamata olives
5 sundried tomatoes
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, chopped (stems removed)
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp chopped basil

Add the oil to a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the onion couscous and mushrooms and cook until the onion is soft and the couscous is browned a little, about five minutes.

Add the garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.

Add the stock, stirring constantly to incorporate it. Add some pepper, but not salt (the kalamatas will add some salty flavor while cooking, so save that for last). Let the broth come to a boil, then turn down the heat so that it bubbles gently.

Cover it and let it cook for 10 minutes or so. The liquid will be absorbed and the couscous will be soft.

Add the chopped basil last and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. This can be served hot or at room temperature.

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