Dear SOS: We had dinner at the Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena last week and loved the couscous. Could you provide the recipe?
Dear Barbara: Vertical Wine Bistro was happy to share its recipe for Israeli couscous. It features large, pearly couscous flavored with chopped fresh herbs and garlic and a touch of bright tang from lemon juice and vinegar. It's rounded out with complex notes from the Moroccan spice blend ras el hanout. The dish is perfect made ahead of time to give the flavors time to marry before serving.
Vertical Wine Bistro's Israeli couscous
45 minutes, plus chilling time. Serves 6 to 8
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
1 (8.78-ounce) package Israeli couscous
Chicken or vegetable broth (typically 2 cups broth per 1 cup couscous, or as the package directs)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 green onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add the white onion and ras el hanout and sweat until the onion is translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the couscous over low heat and stir for 3 minutes, then add the broth. Raise heat to bring to a boil, and cook until the couscous is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Spread the cooked couscous onto a shallow rimmed pan to cool, stirring occasionally.
2. In a large bowl, combine the red and green onions, bell pepper, tarragon, mint, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and remaining oil along with the couscous, gently mixing with your hands to separate the couscous and fold together the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to give the flavors time to marry. Remove from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving to come to room temperature, and stir once more before serving.
EACH OF 8 SERVINGS
Protein 4 grams
Carbohydrates 29 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Fat 9 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram
Sugar 2 grams
Sodium 218 mg
NOTE: Adapted from Vertical Wine Bistro; the restaurant suggests adding freshly grilled chicken, scallops or shrimp. Ras el hanout can generally be found at cooking supply stores, as well as gourmet markets, many well-stocked supermarkets and online.