Tag Archives: couscous

Couscous with Tomato and Arugula

These past few weeks, perhaps fueled by the knowledge that my maternity leave is coming to a rapid close, I’ve been cooking up a storm. Who knows if I’ll have the energy to make meals with multiple courses at the end of my workdays-to-come? So if the whim hits to make beer-braised brats and onions with a side of creamed spinach with bacon, the time is now. If my tastebuds cry out for baked mac and cheese with a side of buttery peas and shallots, the time is now. Arm me with a nice glass of red wine around 4pm, a cutting board and a knife, and I’m in dinner-making heaven.

But of course I don’t always come to the dinner hour with a complete notion of what I want to eat. In fact, for me, half the pleasure of menu planning is letting my taste buds be courted by recipes that I peruse and gazing at the food photography in magazines, cookbooks, and of course online.

During my enthusiastic searches for new ideas, I finally delved into a cookbook that had been sitting on my shelf since my friend Annie gave it to me for my baby shower: “The Naptime Chef: fitting great food into family life.” Kelsey’s recipe for couscous promised to pair perfectly with the salmon fillets I was practically drooling to make–and it did. I loved the tang of the vinaigrette, the fresh lemony-ness of it all, the sweetness of the tomatoes and the nutty flavor of the arugula. Plus, not only was this great warm with salmon, but it was also good piping hot the next day after a stint in the microwave, and topped with a perfectly cooked over-easy egg and blue cheese crumbles.

With my humble modifications, I present you one awesome side dish . . . which could easily be a main dish for a casual lunch by yourself on the couch, watching the latest episode of your favorite show. Just sayin’.

It made me almost as happy as Alice after a big meal . . .

 . . . almost.

It’s tough to beat the happiness of a drunk-on-milk baby, what can I say.

Et maintenant! I give you . . . le couscous extraordinaire.


(Serves 4-6)

10 oz uncooked plain couscous
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 pint golden sunburst tomatoes, halved
2 ½ oz baby arugula

1. Cook the couscous according to the package directions.

2. Fluff the couscous well with a fork.

3. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to form the dressing.

4. Stir the dressing, tomatoes and arugula into the couscous, tossing until everything is evenly mixed together. Taste and re-season if needed.

5. Serve warm, hot or cold!

And eat it with our without salmon . . . though “with” is highly recommended.

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Israeli Couscous with Spiced Sweet Onions

If I were a good blogger, I would be sharing an amazing recipe with you all for pumpkin pie. Or pecan pie. Or brined turkey. I mean, it’s Thanksgiving week! However, I’ve never claimed to be a ‘good blogger.’ In fact, I only recently became comfortable with even using the word ‘blogger’ in reference to myself.

It’s been rough, folks. And exciting. And weird. And wonderful. There may be no going back.

Anyway, I came across this recipe for Israeli Couscous on The Novice Chef Blog, and let me tell you–it was love at first sight. She calls it ‘Warm Couscous Salad,’ but for some reason I can’t bring myself to think of it as a salad. Thus, I renamed it, made a few modifications, served it hot, and I bring it to you today.

It is delightful. Delicious. Delectable. Devilish.

Except not devilish at all, because it’s very healthy–Wikipedia tells me that couscous is “among the healthiest grain-based products,” beating out pasta hands down.

Devilish? Healthy? I love making a statement and immediately contradicting it. It keeps everyone on their toes.

I love this as a side dish, and served it with salmon. I also love this as a main dish, topped with a couple hard boiled eggs or some fried tofu. And if you’re of the meat-needing persuasion (Dave, I’m talking to you), toss in some cubed leftover Thanksgiving turkey or ham. Hah! I totally just redeemed myself by working in the holiday at hand.

Whether main dish or side dish, I would pretty much love this concoction under any circumstance, whatever its name, and however ugly its past was. I’m an all embracing person, and I embrace this couscous dish.


(Serves 6)

2 cups Israeli couscous

2 TBS olive oil

3 large sweet onions

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBS brown sugar

1 TBS balsamic vinegar

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

cilantro, to garnish

First, slice up your onions.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high, and when hot, add the onions and 1/2 tsp of salt.

Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the onions are starting to get translucent.

In the meantime, get some salted water boiling in preparation for the couscous.

Once it boils, add the couscous and cook for about 7 minutes.

You want the couscous to feel like al dente pasta in your mouth–as soon as that happens, drain it and rinse with some cool water.

Back to the onions!

Once the onions are translucent, add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and a few more pinches of salt. I apologize for the disturbing picture. If you scroll down quickly you won’t have to look at it long.

Thankfully, no one ever said that pretty = delicious. This butt ugly sauce will soon make your taste buds sing a small anthem, and you’ll forget all about its brown gloopiness.

Stir it around and continue to cook on low heat for another 10 minutes.

See? No more brown ugly sauce. It’s magically transformed itself, and is now golden and gorgeous.

Don’t forget to add generous amounts of black pepper!

While the onions are making your house smell like a spiced paradise, quarter or halve the cherry tomatoes.

After the onions have cooked for those 10 minutes, add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes or until the tomatoes are heated through, but still retaining their shape.

Then ask your Nikon D5000, “why do you freak out when intense reds are in the picture? Do you really have to wig out like you do? Can’t you just balance the dang colors for me? I don’t have time for this!” Then the Nikon reminds you of all the amazing pictures not involving reds it has allowed you to take, and you make up with tears, hugs, and promises to never fight again.

I love my camera, and I can’t let our relationship stay on the rocks for more than two minutes at a time.

Adjust the seasoning to your taste.

It may seem like a lot of onions for not a lot of couscous–but don’t worry. When it comes together and you take that first bite, it will all make sense.

Combine the couscous with the onion/tomato mixture, and top it all with some cilantro.


I resurrected this clear bowl that I had originally bought to float some candles in.

Then I didn’t touch it for 4 years, and it languished beneath my popcorn bowl, ignored and weepy.

I think this bowl has now found its purpose in life.

Let’s have a bite, shall we?

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