Sunday, September 8, 2013

Special "Addition" - Israeli Couscous Salad With Crab

One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to improvise little twists on tried, true, and faithful recipes. Usually, this means adding one extra special ingredient that elevates the dish. The latest example of this was a recipe I recently created to serve a party of ten dinner guests. It involved our go-to "feeds a crowd" side, Israeli Couscous Salad. While we usually serve this easy to prepare crowd-pleaser mixed with chopped parsley, sliced cherry tomatoes, red onions and a balsamic vinaigrette (the result is totally delicious yet so simple and pretty), I decided that last week's family barbecue called for something a bit more unique. Whenever I am looking to add a little luxury to a meal, I find that there's no better bang for your buck than a can of crabmeat.

Israeli Couscous with Crab, Photo: NK 

Today's Crab Couscous Salad will not require that you splurge on expensive lump crab meat. "Flake," generally the cheapest type of crabmeat, works perfectly here. You could certainly use Backfin -which is more in the middle grade. I prefer Israeli (also known as Pearl) Couscous to the more ubiquitous "regular" couscous although I am sure the latter would also work. 

With a more substantial grain the size of small pearls, Israeli couscous is wonderful if you are looking for a couscous with a much more texture and interest. This little pasta, like its arguably more popular smaller-grained counterpart, is super versatile and easy to handle. Carrots (we happened to find really beautiful ones at the greenmarket) provide color, crunch, and sweetness, while tangy lemon juice and zest give this salad its punch.  Buttery crab ties the whole dish together into one deliciously special and easy side. Be sure to let the prepared salad sit in the fridge a few hours. The flavors will blend and intensify nicely! Bring this to your next potluck or serve at a picnic or as a fancy dinner accompaniment. The only thing easier than making Crab Couscous Salad is eating it. 

Israeli Couscous With Crab 
Serves 10 as a hearty side dish 

Photo: NK 
Two 8.8 Ounce Boxes Israeli Couscous (we use Osem brand usually found in the Kosher food aisle)
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus more
16 Ounce Can Pasteurized Crabmeat (flake) 
Zest of 2 Lemons 
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup very finely chopped Carrot
4 Heaping Tablespoons Italian Parsley,finely minced
1 large Shallot, cut into a fine dice
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1. F'irst, toast the couscous: pour the uncooked Israeli Couscous into a large, wide pot over a medium-low flame. Stir frequently for a few minutes until the couscous begins to take on a bit of color. Take care not to burn. Some of the grains should become slightly golden, others will remain white. Turn off the heat. 

Israeli Couscous, Photo: NK
2. Now, cook the Couscous in water according to the package instructions. (*We recommend you add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to the cooking liquid to prevent sticking)

3. When finished, remove the cooked Couscous to a very large bowl. 

4. Add Carrots, Shallots, Parsley, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Salt. Give it a good stir and then carefully fold in the Flake Crabmeat. 

5. Toss couscous and allow it to sit in the fridge, stirring occasionally, for at least one hour or up to three hours. 

6. When ready to serve, taste for seasoning and add extra salt or lemon juice as desired. 

You can serve this chilled or room temperature, according to your preference. Enjoy!!

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