For starters, I should just reiterate my love for Israeli couscous, that under-used tapioca-like grain I’ve written about before. I just love it, which biased me towards this dish right from the start. But while this salad, another recipe from my beloved and well-used Entertaining for a Veggie Planet: 250 Down-to-Earth Recipes, is good, it doesn’t pack quite the power of some of Ms. Emmons’ other recipes. It just wasn’t quite as complex or layered in flavor as I might have hoped. It didn’t seem to improve as flavors melded or have subtle nuances that emerged with each bite.
But, I think the culprit was that pungent red onion, which was so powerful and dominant a flavor that nearly everything else disappeared. When the cookbook says to use 1 medium onion, don’t even think about using one on the larger side of medium. In fact, I’d scale it back to half an onion or perhaps even replace the onion with something a little less…bracing? Having taken this to the office for lunch yesterday, I found myself cringing and turning away from my co-workers lest they smell the pungent onion that haunted me all afternoon.
But I don’t mean to say that I didn’t like the salad. With a little bit of a reduction in the amount of onion, it would be a perfectly nice, simple alternative to a pasta salad for a summery day. And with no cheese and almost no oil, it’s practically fat free. Anyone have any other favorite recipes using israeli couscous?
Israeli couscous and clementine salad (serves 6-8)
1 1/4 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 juicy lemon)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 clementines or 2 oranges, peeled and divided into segments
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds or pecans
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the couscous and boil until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the couscous and rinse it with cold running water. Drain well.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put sliced onions or pecans on baking sheet and toast for five minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the clementine or orange segments, onion, parsley, and almonds or pecans, and mix well. Stir in the couscous. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or refridgerate and serve cold within a few hours.