Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back To Basics - NK's Original Israeli Couscous Salad

Our Green Market Bounty + Heirloom Cherry Tomtoes, Photo: NK
It's that time again - time for our annual Couscous recipe.
This year, we're kickin' it old school with the Couscous that started it all - our original and perfectly simple Israeli Couscous with Tomatoes and Onions. Israeli Couscous is one of our go-to summer sides because it's super versatile, great for barbecues, can be made ahead (it tastes better the longer it sits) and served chilled or at room temperature. Finally, I like that it's just slightly less ubiquitous than regular old Pasta Salad (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Like any good basic, you can dress it up or down. Today's version is probably our most stripped down because it uses just a few widely available, everyday ingredients that are great in summer. (We're all about the tomato, as you can clearly see here). Do check out our past years' Couscous recipes HERE, HERE and DO get creative with this great little pearl shape Pasta on your own. You cannot go wrong and the possibilities are endless. 

What can I say? We love the stuff - whether you are looking to shake up your pasta salad or create the simplest side ever for your next barbecue, Israeli Couscous is a great choice. 

NOTE - For this recipe we used Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes because they were available at our green market and I always find that they lend a little something special (plus lots of color!) to recipes. If you can't find them, you can absolutely use any small tomato variety like Grape, Cherry, Sungold (the orangey-yellow kind) or even larger Tomatoes that have been chopped up.  

So here it is, the original and still best Israeli Couscous Salad With Tomatoes & Onions. Did someone say barbecue? 

Classic Israeli Couscous with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Photo: NK

Classic Israeli Cous Cous & Tomato Salad

Serves 4 (double for larger groups)

1/2 cup dry Israeli couscous (we prefer Osem Brand) prepared in water according to package instructions. (Don't add salt) *see below for how to 'toast the couscous first

2 heaping tablespoons minced Italian parsley 
1 Cup Assorted Heirloom or Regular Grape or Cherry Tomatoes (cut in halves or quarters depending on their size)
1/2 Cup Red Onion, cut in a small dice. (About half a small red onion)


2 teaspoons Olive Oil 

1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar (plus more to taste)

1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt + more

Black Pepper


1.*Optionally "toast" the Couscous to enhance flavor and color - To do this: Pour the Couscous into a dry pan and toast over medium heat shaking the pan and stirring occasionally until the Couscous begins to take on a bit of color on some, not all, of the pasta pearls. Keep an eye on it. It gets toasted quickly and can burn if you aren't watching. Turn off heat and proceed with the recipe. 

2. Prepare the Couscous in water according to package directions. (For more flavor, you can use an equal amount of low sodium Chicken Broth, but I would taste before adding the extra salt later). 

3. Let Couscous cool and then toss in the Tomatoes, Parsley and Onion.

4. Dress with 2 teaspoons or more good-quality Olive Oil and then add Red Wine Vinegar to taste (we use about 1 teaspoon). Stir. Finish with 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt. Allow to sit in fridge before serving and bring to room temperature or serve chilled. Taste before serving and adjust seasonings if needed. 

**This dish is best served slightly chilled or at room temperature and tastes better the longer you let the flavor develop.You can make it a day in advance and the Couscous component as many as three days in advance. 

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