I just finished eating this dish for dinner and I have to say, it was nice. I’m not sure how else to put it. It was a very nice dish. It was light, crisp, not overly filling and just – nice. I enjoyed it very much. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced pearl, or Israeli, couscous before, but I think I may become a fan.
After I finished cooking the couscous, I added it to a large glass bowl. Immediately, I sprinkled a few pinches of salt over it and mixed it in. After that, I combined it with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and tasted what I had done. It was the weirdest thing – I think those three ingredients might be magic. The texture of the couscous, the flavor of the salt and the lightness of the lemon juice worked in perfect harmony. I’m so glad I found this recipe.
This dish isn’t terribly difficult to prepare in any way. All it requires is a bit of your time to watch some pots and stir a few things. The fennel and onion that are used are nicely caramelized, which adds a fair amount of sweetness. The wilted spinach and fresh scallions round the ingredients out well. They add some color to an otherwise neutral looking dish, which certainly makes it much more appealing.
3 Cups Pearl Couscous
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 Fennel Bulbs, Cored and Sliced Thin
1 Large Sweet Onion, Sliced Thin
2 Teaspoons Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
8 Ounces Baby Spinach
1 Bunch Scallions, Cut into 1/2 Inch Pieces
I’d like to thank America’s Test Kitchen for this recipe. Theirs is called Israeli Couscous with Caramelized Fennel and Spinach. I altered a few ingredients and cooking techniques, but really, they were my inspiration. I couldn’t have done it without them. Great job, as always.
Prep the Ingredients
I felt it a good idea that I show you what the ingredients look like after they’re prepped. I always appreciate this type of thing when I’m using recipes and cooking, so I think passing on the photo love can only help.
First, I removed the stems from the three fennel bulbs, cored them and sliced the bulbs thinly. I added all the pieces to a bowl for later use.
After that, I peeled the sweet onion and sliced that thinly as well. I again stored the pieces in another bowl.
Once those two ingredients were prepped, I moved onto slicing the scallions and washing and chopping in half the baby spinach. The baby spinach I purchase comes as a bunch. It’s very easy to grab and run a knife right across the entire thing. The result of doing that is having half a bunch of stems and half a bunch of leaves. Both bunches are perfect for a recipe like this as they essentially melt into the dish once heated. After cutting these ingredients, I stored them in separate bowls, just like I did for the others above.
Finally, I added the 3 cups of couscous to a bowl so it would be easier to access when needed.
I do want to discuss this couscous for a moment. If you weren’t aware, Israeli and pearl couscous are one and the same. I picked mine up from a store called Reny’s here in Maine, but I’m sure it’s available many more places. I like to buy my Bob’s ingredients from Reny’s though because they have all the brand offerings in one area. Hannaford likes to spread it out throughout their entire store, which makes locating it take extraordinarily more difficult. I gave up on that a long time ago, especially since Reny’s prices are much better anyway. I even left the price tag on the package for you.
If you’re interested, this bag measures out to almost exactly 3 cups. There’s no need for a measuring cup with this one. I already did the work for you.
Cook the Couscous
In a large pot, add 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and when the water is ready, add the couscous. Stir and cook for 5 minutes until the couscous is tender. When it is, dump everything into a colander and let drain. Then, add the ingredient to a large bowl and combine with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Add the scallions, a few pinches of black pepper and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix everything together and set aside.
Cook Onion & Fennel
Warm a large skillet over medium-low heat. Then, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to it and dump the fennel and onion into the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt as well. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes. The goal here is to allow the liquid to release from the ingredients. Once the 15 minutes has passed, uncover the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir and cook for another 15 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. This is called caramelizing and it’s a wonderful thing to do.
When both ingredients begin to brown, turn off the heat.
Now that everything is cooked, you can begin combining all the ingredients together. First, add the garlic to the skillet and stir in. Then, add the spinach to the skillet and cover for a minute or two. Once you see the spinach begin to wilt, go ahead and stir that in as well. It should soften and melt into everything else almost immediately.
Finally, transfer the ingredients that are currently in the skillet into the large bowl that holds the couscous. Mix everything together well and serve.
The Final Dish
After reading through this recipe, I hope that you agree that this was fairly simply to prepare and that it is perfectly light for either a nice easy lunch or dinner. While I enjoyed it for dinner, I would definitely make it for lunch any day of the week. Enjoy!