What exactly is couscous?
Essentially, it is an Israeli toasted pasta shaped like rice or little balls. While it comes in a variety of forms, Israeli couscous - whole wheat - is my favorite derivative. Why? I enjoy the larger size, in terms of texture, and benefits of whole wheat pasta.
I know... shudder... I uttered the dreaded "diet debunker" in mentioning "pasta."
How does one still enjoy pasta while either losing weight of maintaining their current weight?
Diet is 30% working out and 70% what you chose to consume (or not consume!) When I make pasta dishes, I will generally load them up with vegetables. Not only do vegetables impart their aroma into the pasta, but they also provide vibrant colors and less calories.
Healthy Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 shallot - diced
1/2 red bell pepper - diced
2 small portabella mushrooms - diced
5 large kalamata olives - cut in half
1 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous
2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable/beef)
1 Tbsp red wine - Pino/Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tsp smoked sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp dried oregano
3 large basil leaves - finely chopped - garnish
Sweat the diced shallots in the EVOO on medium heat until they are tender and translucent (no longer crunchy) - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, mushrooms, smoked sea salt, dried oregano and lemon juice and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Deglaze with red wine. When fully reduced, add stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the couscous, cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes, until the couscous fully absorbs the liquid. Couscous will be ready when able to "fluff" with a fork - not sticky.
After fully cooked, add finely-chopped fresh basil and Kalamata olives.
In terms of plating, couscous is brilliant when used with ring-molds because it keeps it shape in a way that most pastas simply cannot. Couscous can be served as a side side to any type of protein... scallops, shrimps, crab, poultry, red meat, etc. A healthy, versatile dish that not only looks whimsical, but fulfills a "pasta craving" in a diet-friendly manner.
Love y'all dearly! ♥