Israeli Couscous “Risotto”

I was reading through cookbooks last weekend and came across something that I had never heard of before: cooking pasta like risotto. Now, reading this terrified and excited me. I could foresee pasta burning and sticking to the pan, coming up undercooked and gummy at the same time. I was also excited by the possibility of saving water and the time it takes to boil the water. This has been in the back of my mind the past couple days.

I was driving home from class today over hwy 17 and got really hungry. I’ve been getting very hungry all of a sudden lately. I was daydreaming of burritos, chinese food, and all sorts of take-out. Then I thought of my bank account, the feta cheese, roasted garlic, dried cranberries, salad greens, and array of carboyhydrate options I keep in my cupboard. I knew I could come up with something delicious, easy, satisfying, and quick.

I figured that Israeli couscous would be the perfect sized pasta to try out risotto style. I like making risotto and have never found it to be a challenge. I’ve always found cooking a pot of rice to be more of a challenge. I also like Israeli couscous. I like it much better than those tiny wimpy regular couscous.

Out came the Israeli Couscous “Risotto”. Creamy, tangy, savory, sweet. Nutty, hearty, and simple. A great lunch for when you have time to cook. Or it could be a great dinner. A wonderful way to use leftovers and experiment.

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” with Dried Cranberries, Feta, and Roasted Garlic

  • 1 1/3 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup water (you could also use stock or a combination of stock and water)
  • salt, pepper, and chili pepper flakes (my holy trinity of spices)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • a handful of dried cranberries
  • a couple cloves of roasted garlic
  • a handful of herb and garlic feta
  • a handful of salad greens

1. To toast your couscous add the olive oil and couscous to the pan and heat to medium. I use a heavy bottomed aluminum pan because I have some sort of disease that prevents me from ever wanting to use non-stick. Add salt, pepper, and chili pepper flakes.  Heat for about five minutes until they little balls turn a golden color and they smell nutty (or in my case almost burning).

2. Gradually add your water and stir. You want to add the water in small increments. The way I gauged it was add a little water, stir, stir, stir, and then when the little balls started to stick I added more water before they could adhere themselves permanently to the pan. This process took about fifteen minutes.

3. Add roasted garlic cloves and smash them up into the couscous. Let them heat through for about a minute or so. Then remove the pan from the heat. Add cranberries and feta.

4. In a bowl mix together couscous mixture and salad greens. Enjoy.

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