Aiii, culinary nomenclature can be so confusing.
First there's couscous, which we tend to think of as a natural whole grain and cook and serve like a grain, but is really just another form of dried pasta. But did anyone else love the word 'couscous' as a kid? I did. "Koos-koos, koos-koos, koos-koos" I'd try to say three times, failing except for the real point, which was to laugh out loud, that was a success.
And then there's Israeli couscous. It's still another form of pasta, toasted instead of dried, and shaped in perfect tiny pearls somehow way sexier than other itty-bitty pastas and their cousin, regular couscous. But Israeli couscous is as much a 'food product' as couscous, it's not a natural whole grain either, albeit one born of necessity and innovation. After the formation of Israel, both food and foreign currency were scarce so it was prudent to create a home-grown food source to substitute for rice.
So I love the word 'couscous' and the history of Israeli couscous – and truth be told, I love this salad too, it tasted so garlicky and summery and was oh-so-pretty to behold.
I used a Trader Joe's mix called 'Harvest Grains Blend'. (You see how the word 'grain' keeps showing up in the couscous neighborhood?) It's a mix of Israeli "style" couscous (hmm, what does 'style' mean in this context?), red and green bullets of orzo (the tiny Italian pasta), baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa. I like the mix alot, except that the garbanzo beans took way more time and way more water to cook than the rest of the blend.
But don't stress over finding the Trader Joe's blend, or even Israeli couscous. Any tiny pasta will do, American, Italian, Israeli, Martian or otherwise.
For that matter, don't stress over the summer squash either – think peas or green beans or sweet corn or olive as substitutes. I have a great source of relatively inexpensive no-oil sun-dried tomatoes (for St. Louisans, that's Dierbergs) but wouldn't hesitate to use cherry tomatoes (halved, to get the juices out, maybe with tiny balls of fresh mozzarella?) or chopped summer tomatoes.
Let the ingredient list be as stretch-y and as pleasure-inducing as, you know, koos-koos.
"I used this recipe as an "inspiration" for a dish of my own: ... The verdict: DELICIOUS! " ~ Molly
ISRAELI COUSCOUS SALAD with YELLOW SQUASH & SUN-DRIED TOMATOES
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 5 cups
1-1/4 cups Israeli couscous or a tiny pasta such as orzo, even broken bits of spaghetti
Water or other cooking liquid
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 - 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 pound yellow squash, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, then cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound zucchini, ditto
Cooked summer squash
1/2 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, cut into slivers
Salt & pepper to taste
PASTA Cook until al dente according to package instructions. If needed, drain.
SUMMER SQUASH In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmery. Add the shallot and garlic, stir to coat with fat and let cook until just soft. Add the yellow squash and zucchini as they're prepped, stir to coat with fat. Let cook until barely done, you don't want them mushy.
COMBINE Toss the still-hot couscous with the cooked squash and sun-dried tomatoes. Season to taste. Let cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
I'd intended to add fresh basil just before serving but in the end, decided against it, thinking it would detract from a lovely garlicky couscous studded with pieces of summer squash.
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