Risotto Style Pearl Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

I randomly bought pearl couscous on a whim about 6 months ago. Guess what was still sitting in my pantry unopened today?

It wasn’t because I didn’t have any ideas about what to cook with it, it’s just that I seldom cook with pearl couscous and last time I made it I wasn’t too happy with how it turned out so needed to get motivated to try cook with it again.

Alas, I have taken a risotto style approach for preparing the couscous instead. What I ended up with a huge burst of flavour within a filling and healthy meal. Perfect!

I was hesitant to include the word risotto in this recipe at all because quite frankly it’s not a risotto. But it is similar to the style of cooking I used to prepare the couscous today. Grains absorbing the cooking liquid and leaving them al dente with additional ingredients mixed in. Works for me.

This recipe is conveniently vegetarian.

Pearl Couscous – Risotto Style (serves 2-3)

What you’re going to need

3/4 cup pearl couscous

1 400 ml bottle passata (or 1 tin tomatoes, pureed using a stick blender)

1 clove garlic, minced or grated with a microplane

1/2 zucchini, sliced into thick matchsticks

1/2 eggplant, sliced lengthways into rectangular pieces

3 small vine ripened tomatoes, kept whole

50 g haloumi, processed into a rough crumb

small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped

olive oil

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. On a lined baking tray, add the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake until soft and browned (~20 minutes)
  2. Using a saucepan that has a lid, heat up a small drizzle of olive oil on a medium heat. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the Passata and mix well.
  3. Add the pearl couscous, mix and allow to get to a simmer. Place the lid on whilst cooking and stir every 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste. Cook until pearl couscous is al dente and tomatoes are still saucy. (Note: if you’re finding it too thick, add small amounts of water). Mix in chopped basil.
  4. In a small fry pan, quickly pan fry the haloumi for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Once couscous, eggplant and zucchini are ready, mix together in the saucepan with the haloumi. Serve hot with the roast tomato in the centre.

Pearl couscous with roast vegetables

 

Pearl Couscous Salad with Chunky Tomato Sauce

The daily dilemma…figuring out what to have for lunch. I was fortunate to be off work when I thought up this recipe so conveniently had an open pantry to work with. Even so, many find themselves swamped with ingredients and not a clue how they fit together.

Lucky for you, one of my favourite pastimes is picking an assortment of ingredients, throwing them together and hoping they will taste amazing.

Pearl couscous is such an interesting grain. It works as a really good filler for salads and an accompaniment to a stew and the like. My original intention for this was to pair it with leftover roast lamb but there was a miscommunication in the kitchen and so my father took it with him to work instead. Alas, crisis management kicked in and I worked with what I had to still make something tasty.

My favourite part of this dish is the crispy fried capers! I’ve seen chefs on cooking shows use this technique numerous times and have always been keen to try it out myself! Super easy and result is definitely worth the minimal effort required.

Pearl Couscous Salad with Chunky Tomato Sauce

What you’re going to need

1/4 cup pearl couscous

a generous handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (I used Perino tomatoes for this recipe)

one slice shortcut bacon, sliced into small pieces

6 kalamata olives, sliced in half

teaspoon baby capers

fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to season

olive oil

Method

  1. Cook pearl couscous to packet instructions.
  2. Whilst the couscous is cooking, fry up the bacon in a small pan until crispy. Set aside.
  3. In the same pan, add a splash of olive oil and heat the oil to a medium heat. Place capers in the pan and fry until aromatic and the colour has darkened (max 30 seconds). Remove from pan and set aside on paper towel to drain.
  4. In a saucepan, add the cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper. Mash up the tomatoes until a relish like texture forms.
  5. Add in the couscous, bacon and fresh basil and mix until well combined. Take off the heat and mix in the olives. Place in a bowl and top with the capers!

pearl-couscous-salad

 

 

 

Israeli Couscous Salad

Long time no see! (Apologies for that). I am most definitely still cooking away but have been mostly making the same things so figured I’d wait until I could bring something fresh to the table. Alas, my Sunday lunch!

I’ve eaten Israeli Couscous numerous times and have absolutely loved it! I stumbled across it in a supermarket today and thought “Yep, there’s a lunch idea!” So, since Sydney’s weather is doing its usual four seasons in one week thing and today happened to be a cold, dreary day filled with rain, figured a warm lunch with roast vegetables would be perfect! I also thought it would be an amazing accompaniment to have a layer of hummus at the bottom to mix in with all the goodness that’s already happening! Completely optional but highly recommend!

This dish can be made in about 20 minutes, stored in the fridge for later consumption and for future work lunches (YES!). So here it is:

Israeli Couscous Salad (serves two or one very hungry person – no judgement here)

What you’re going to need

1/2 cup Israeli Couscous

50 g grams shredded chicken breast (I used leftover BBQ chicken for this)

50 grams pumpkin, skin removed and cut into 2 cm cubes

5 cherry tomatoes, halved

handful rocket

20 grams feta cheese

half handful parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt, to season

Optional: heaped wooden spoonful hummus (preferably homemade – click the link here for my recipe:  Hummus)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. Place pumpkin on a lined baking tray with the olive oil and salt. Bake until soft.
  3. Cook couscous according to packet instructions.
  4. When the pumpkin and couscous have about five minutes to go, throw the cherry tomatoes onto the same baking tray with the pumpkin and mix in with the oil and salt.
  5. Once the vegetables and couscous are cooked, you are ready for assembly. On a plate, spread the hummus in an even, thick layer.
  6. Then, in a separate bowl (or in the saucepan you used for the couscous), mix the couscous, chicken, pumpkin, tomatoes, rocket and parsley until well combined.
  7. Place bowl mixture on top of the hummus then serve with crumbled feta cheese and some additional parsley if you’re feeling it!

Israeli Couscous Salad