Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sweet Israeli Couscous with Tart Cherries and Cashews

There's a first time for everything!

As silly as it sounds, I've never cooked Israeli couscous before, and now that I have, I can't imagine why I waited so long- texture-wise, this reminds me more of pasta than it does of typical couscous! Which might be all the more reason why I'm now a fan. Like many other grain dishes, preparation is relatively simple- two parts liquid for each part grain and cook until tender and fluffy.

With dried cherries and cashews in my cabinets, I thought I'd create a sweet couscous instead of a typical herb-y or vegetable-y one. To add a little heat to the dish, I sliced some peppadew peppers (which also make great stuffed appetizers!) and let the sweet & spicy flavors battle it out. I'm normally a fan of spicy, but in this case, it's an even draw.

The Whats:

* 1 cup dried Israeli couscous
* 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
* 1 cup water
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 tbsp. rose water (optional)
* 1 tsp. nutmeg
* pinch of salt
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 1/2 cup finely chopped dried tart cherries
* 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews (almonds would be great as well!)
* 2 tsp. agave nectar
* about 6 peppadew peppers, sliced into strips

The Hows:

1) In a small skillet,  heat one tbsp. of the olive oil. Add the cherries and cashews to the pan; add agave nectar and mix until cashews and cherries are evenly coated. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cashews have slightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

2) Meanwhile, bring water and veggie broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the couscous and the bay leaf and reduce heat to low; cover and cook until couscous is tender and liquid has absorbed,about 10 minutes.

3) Stir in remaining olive oil, rose water, nutmeg, salt, and the cherry-cashew mixture. Add the peppadew peppers into the couscous, or use as garnish. Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Have extra cashew-cherry mix? If you've already bought a container of peppadews, might I suggest:

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