What more can I say about couscous other than it is delicious and hearty. It is available in both large and small grains; even though both are available here in Israel, in the US “Israeli Couscous” refers to dishes using the large variety. This starchy dish is so versatile it’s a good idea to always have a pack or two stored away in the cabinet. I like the small grains as a side under vegetables but prefer the larger kind as there’s more potential to spice it up and add really whatever you like to it.
Usually my Thanksgiving has a pretty Israeli flair to it even when I’m at home. This year I was able to throw together a last minute dinner for my favorite holiday of the year and took the opportunity to run with the Israeli theme. So one of my side dishes was this cranberry pistachio couscous and added subtle autumn harvesty spicing.
for the recipe….
Cranberry Pistachio Couscous
4 cloves garlic
1 package large grain couscous
2.5 cups water*
1/2 cup dried
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 pinches pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
a few sprigs of mint
Preheat a heavy medium pot over medium-low heat. Once the pot has heated add the olive oil and the minced garlic cloves. Once cooked, raise the heat to medium and add the couscous and cranberries to the oil and garlic and stir. Continue to stir for about 4-5 minutes as the grains toast. Once it’s toasted it should appear brown and have a little nutty aroma. Add the water, cumin, salt, and pepper, and the cinnamon stick. Raise the heat and bring to boil. Once boiling lower the heat and cover for about 10 minutes. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed at this point. Add the pistachios, about 2 tablespoons of chopped mint leaves, the juice from half a lemon. Stir and cover for about 5 more minutes as the rest of the water absorbs. Remove from heat, take out the cinnamon sticks, fluff the couscous with a fork and serve.
* The amount of water really depends on how much couscous you put in. Read the package and follow the amount of water to add and continue with the directions as normal. If you’re unsure I usually go by a 1:1.5 ratio of couscous:water. So if you’re adding 2 cups couscous I’d add 3 cups water.
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