Many years ago I lived in the Middle East. There I learned how to appreciate and cook regional dishes that were unknown to me within the confines of the food life I previously led. This recipe is reminiscent of several combinations of dried fruit and nuts with couscous that I ate while living abroad. I prefer to make this dish with Israeli couscous, which is not a grain, but a pasta. I have also used regular couscous, whole wheat couscous, quinoa, and long grain rice when making this dish. As noted, you can use many different dried fruits and nuts - so this is a very versatile and pantry-friendly side dish. This is great with any chicken dish that comes with a sauce - I serve it with my Israeli Chicken: https://food52.com/recipes... —Bevi
6 to 8 servings
Israeli Couscous (17.6 oz. box)
shallots, finely chopped, or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
fresh thyme, chopped
Ground Salt and ground pepper to taste
your choice of currants or raisins
your choice of dried fruit - chopped dates, figs, or apricots, or a combination
toasted almond slivers (you may also use chopped pistachios, toasted walnuts, toasted cashews, or toasted hazelnuts
Pour 2 TBLS. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When oil is heated, pour the contents of a box of Israeli couscous in the saucepan. While stirring constantly - lightly brown the couscous. This should take about 5 minutes. Pour the required amount of boiling water into the browned couscous. Follow cooking directions, which should instruct you to bring couscous to boil, cover, and cook over medium to low heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside, covered.
Pour 2 TBLS. of olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the chopped shallots or onions and the fresh thyme. Saute until the shallots or onions are lightly browned.
In the meantime, take the lid off the couscous to let it dry out a little.
Turn the heat off the shallots, set aside. Add the soy sauce. Taste, and accordingly add a small amount of salt, if needed, and black pepper.
Add the currants or raisins and the dried fruit, stir and set aside to allow the fruit to soften.
When ready to serve, stir the almonds into the shallot and fruit mixture. Then, add the couscous to everything and stir the whole mixture completely. Taste for seasonings, and serve on a platter under your chicken, lamb, pork, or meat. Or, serve separately as a side dish. This dish is perfect for soaking up sauces, particularly those on the sweet-yet-savory spectrum.