Sundried Tomato Couscous

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For my birthday dinner in November, The Kid and I went to a restaurant that specializes in healthier, locally sourced meals. I love that such a place exists although I do wish it wasn’t so expensive fancy. I got a wonderful entrée with caramelized sea scallops, sundried tomato couscous, and grilled asparagus. Sigh, if only I had someone to make me dinners like this… oh wait, that would be me. 😉

I’ve had couscous before and liked it but the variety this restaurant used was different. What I’ve tried were tiny little “grains” smaller than quinoa but larger than sand. These were much larger, closer to ball bearing size. Don’t you love my size descriptions? I’m also giving you hand gestures to help describe it.

I went to the grocery store did some field research and discovered that it’s called pearl couscous or Israeli couscous. There were several color variations too – white, orange, green, and a blend of the colors. I decided to try making my own version of the side dish for Christmas dinner. I opted for the white version since I was planning to throw color into the mix with my ingredients.

I love the bigger couscous texture and the way it holds together for a pretty presentation on your plate. I pressed each serving into a round plastic container and flipped it out onto the center of the dinner plate. It held together in a nice mound instead of falling apart. It’s all about the presentation and packaging sometimes to make something ordinary seem kinda special.

It was easy to put together too since the sauce cooks while the couscous is simmering. Both ended up being done at the same time and came together perfectly. Side note for those of you with kids: I tried making it look pretty with parsley on the top, but The Kid immediately picked the frills off. If you have kids, you may want to just skip that effort as it will be wasted on the young. Sigh.

Sundried Tomato Couscous Sundried Tomato Couscous

  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts minced
  • 1/4 cup pitted greek olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • Parsley for garnish, optional

Bring 1/2 cup broth and water to a boil in a pot over medium heat. Stir in the couscous and lower heat. Cover and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes until water is absorbed. Stir every now and then to prevent the bottom pearls from getting too well done.

While the couscous is simmering, spray a small pan with non-stick spray and heat over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onions for approximately 2 minutes until the onions soften a bit. Add the olives, tomatoes, and mushrooms and saute another minute to heat them.

Add the broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 7 – 8 minutes until the sauce is reduced slightly. Remove the sauce and couscous from heat. Mix the sauce into the couscous and garnish with parsley, if desired.

Makes 4 servings at approximately 186 calories each – 6g protein, 34g carbs, and 3g fat.

Notes

  • The black olives I used were the Greek kind with the salty brine bite to them, not the sweeter ones from California.
  • I used a bag of sundried tomatoes that are air dehydrated and not packed in oil. They are great in salads, stuffed in chicken breasts, and in sandwiches. I like the texture of them better than the oil packed ones. You can use oil packed here if you prefer but your calories will be different.
  • I had leftover shiitake mushrooms from the bulgogi soup so I was looking for an excuse to use them. You can use regular mushrooms or leave them out entirely.
  • To make this vegan, you can use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. I went with chicken since I had an open can from the black bean soup. Apparently my fridge is full of half cans of this and that along with random leftover ingredients. But hey, I get creative and use them before they go bad!

I had leftovers the next day as a cold salad and liked it that way too. The sweetness of the sundried tomatoes with the salty olives was really good. I love figuring out that fancy dishes really aren’t all that hard after all.

Have you ever tried pearl couscous or was I the only one who didn’t know about it?

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