If I am lazy in any part of my culinary life, it’s in side dishes. I tend to focus most of my efforts on the main dish, turning it into the star of what ever meal I’m making, leaving the side dishes to be supporting actors- or even a lowly “no speaking line” extra. I thought maybe it was time to change that, because sometimes you just don’t want your main dish to be anything more than a simple baked chicken or a nice sautéed piece of fish.
I have to admit, my initial inclination for this recipe idea was to do it with quinoa, since I just reorganized my pantry and found a whole huge bag of it on opened. But then when I went to make it, I spied a container of Israeli couscous and decided that I thought that sounded a lot better to me. The great thing about quinoa, couscous, Israeli couscous, orzo, or really any sort of small grain or pasta, is that it’s a blank canvas which can be dressed up with whatever flavor sound good to you on a specific day.
In this case I went for Mediterranean flavors – goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and toasted pinenuts. Very fast – where the most amount of work you’ll do is chopping up some basil and tomatoes, and the only mindful part involves toasting pinenuts so they don’t burn.
It was a huge hit in our house, so it’s safe to say that it will be making a reappearance in the near future.
p.s. I think this would be great COLD as a pasta salad too! Food for thought for next summer.
Israeli Couscous with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Basil and Goat Cheese
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil chopped
- 1 1/2 T red wine vinegar
- 3 oz crumbled goat cheese divided
- 3 T pinenuts
- Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil; add the couscous and cook until al dente. Drain.
- Add the drained couscous to a large serving bowl. Add the basil, tomatoes and 2 oz. of the goat cheese. Toss together to combine.
- In a small skillet over medium low heat, add the pine nuts. Toast them slowly until golden brown, frequently shaking the pan to keep them from burning.
- Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top of the couscous and garnish with the remaining crumbled goat cheese. Serve.