The marriage of grains and vegetables allows for much textural interest and the gustatory interplay of flavours. When tomatoes, corn and roasted peppers are set against a palette of chewy, plump Israeli couscous, they become even more alluring than when featured solo. Perhaps the contrast of the grainy orbs to the juicy tomatoes is what works here, or could it be the starch in the pasta that sponges up the moisture from the chopped veg? Whatever the case, we have a most memorable dish on the menu.
Start off by toasting the Israeli couscous, adding a tablespoon of olive oil to a pot and browning 2 cups of Israeli couscous in it, over medium heat, stirring. The couscous will take on a deep golden hue and a toasty bite after cooking. Add in 2+1/4 cups of boiling water and a half a teaspoon of salt. Stir and let everything bubble away. When the couscous is almost tender, add in about 2 cups of corn kernals, either fresh or frozen. The brief cooking time left will soften the kernals, finish the couscous and give you a structure from which to add more details.
Taste the couscous when the water has evarporated to make sure it is tender. If it needs a few more minutes of cooking and the pot is dry, add a few spoonfuls of water and let the pot simmer a bit longer.
Now for the add-ins: I like the juiciness of fresh, chopped tomatoes and the full-bodied aroma of roasted peppers, cut into dice. You need something green and my go-to choice is fresh herbs. I had chives; I used chives. Some kind of nut is always welcome around here, so in went some toasted slivered almonds. The acerbic bite of onion rounds off flavours well, so chop up some sweet onion or shallots and include them in your creation. And that, my friends, is the whole story.
Now you may add in your seasonings. A splash of extra virgin olive oil makes good sense as does the grated zest and juice of a lemon. Salt and pepper should be added to suit your taste. Garlic almost always plays a supporting role in my salads, so why not use some here? Yes, it really works wonders, adding bite and sharpness and depth from a few cloves of a humble, common bulb. This salad keeps for a few days in the fridge and made for some easy, light lunches as well as solid side dishes for dinner with some butternut squash soup (more on that another day).
Israeli couscous, with its adorable orbs of toothsome texture, will add some substance to your selection of salads. Of course, it is also excellent served hot, as the cooked pasta that it is. Because I am part of an Italian family, pasta salads are not really anyone's top choice in my home, as we like our pasta piping hot and served immediately if not sooner. But I make an exception for Israeli couscous because it is so pleasantly enjoyable to eat and keep. No sticky, gummy, dried out cold pasta going on here, but tender little tidbits of grain-like noodles to incorporate into your marinated vegetable and herb concoctions. Merge cooked Israeli couscous with fresh summer vegetables for a fine marriage.
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