Given that the two main ingredients of this dish were israeli couscous and roasted tomatoes, it was practically guaranteed to be a winner from the start. I’ve written about my love of Israeli couscous (aka pearl couscous) here before and in the handful of times I’ve made it, it’s never failed to please. It’s basically a very tiny round pasta, but somehow (dare I say it?) it’s much more fun than ordinary pasta. And the little pearls soak up whatever broth you cook them in, such that even eaten alone they can be very flavorful. But why try them alone when this little dish marries them to sweet oven-roasted tomatoes, caramelized in their own juices?
Deb of Smitten Kitchen, who originally posted the recipe here several months ago, found it here on Epicurious, where it originally came from Gourmet, so I guess you could say it has a long and illustrious pedigree. I chose to omit the olives that the others included, but beyond that stuck to the original recipe more or less. As suggested, I even made the couscous and dressing a day in advance when I had a few free moments, making the end product a cinch to throw together. And the results? So good we argued over who got to take the leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Delicious!
Got other great ideas for Israeli couscous recipes? Send them my way!
Pearl Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes(serves 4-6)
For roasted tomatoes and dressing:
2 pt red grape or cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 lb)
3 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 1/4 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1. To roast tomatoes and make dressing:Preheat oven to 250°F. Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Add garlic to pan and roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Peel garlic and purée with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth.
2. To make couscous: Bring broth to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and stir in couscous, then simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Spread couscous in 1 layer on a baking sheet and cool 15 minutes. Transfer couscous to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, dressing, roasted tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Roasted tomatoes, dressing, and couscous can be made 1 day ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.