I think there are two kinds of food shoppers. Sam falls into the group which goes into the store, for exactly what he needs, and escapes as soon as he can. I, on the other hand, love to browse the aisles. What if I miss some new and exciting product?
Last year I was searching for Israeli couscous, but I could never find it. Who decides which aisle holds certain products? I have a feeling that me and that individual are not on the same wavelength. There are times where I’ll circle around searching for something in particular, and never end up finding it.
One day, when I was alone in the store, I stumbled upon Israeli couscous. Finally! Of course once I find the product, I couldn’t find a recipe which I wanted to try. I recently organized my food magazine basket (growing every month), and finally came across a recipe which sounded delicious.
What is Israeli couscous? Other names it is known as are: ptitim, Jerusalem couscous or pearl couscous. In the 1950’s food rationing in Israel was enforced, and during this time rice was scarce. The prime minister asked Osem (the largest food manufacturer and distributor in Israel) to make a wheat-based substitute. The company then made ptitim, made of hard wheat flour roasted in the oven.
These days, Israeli couscous is marketed towards children in Israel. Just like pastas in the US- they are made in various shapes to cater to a younger crowd. Many eat ptitim plain, fried with onions, or topped with tomato sauce. Meanwhile, in the US you can find it in trendy, upscale restaurants.
Mushroom Israeli Couscous Risotto
We basically made a risotto, but rather than using arborio rice- I tried out Israeli couscous. Both of us really enjoyed it, it was a bit lighter and more filling. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, feel free to swap it out for asparagus and green peas, or use whatever mushrooms you have in your fridge.
Adapted from: Cooking Light (March 2009)
2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 cup of water
2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, chopped finely
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
1/2 cup dry white wine (ex: Bogle Chardonnay)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 oz goat cheese
4 tbsp chives, chopped
Combine the broth and water in a saucepan over medium heat, bring it to a simmer. Continue to simmer this broth until you use it all up.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan, then toss in the mushrooms. Allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates. Add in the shallots and garlic, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the Israeli couscous, stir constantly for about 1 minute. Finally pour in the wine, cook for another minute or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stir constantly.
Add a ladle (about 1/4 cup) of broth into the couscous mixture. Stir constantly until the broth is absorbed. Then add another ladle of the broth, continue until all of the broth has been used.
Stir in salt and pepper. Finally, add in the goat cheese and keep stirring until it has dissolved into the couscous mixture.
Divide the couscous onto 4 plates, and sprinkle with the chives.