We’re two-thirds of the way through a three part series of cooking classes at Highfield Hall based on the Jerusalem cookbook. One of my favorite recipes from the last class, Couscous With Tomato and Onion, is actually pretty simple.
It’s a great introduction to cooking with couscous. The original recipe calls for chopped ripe tomatoes. If you make it next August or September, by all means use them. In the meantime, I’ve substituted a 28 ounce can of stewed tomatoes.
Ingredients: (adapted from the original recipe)
3 TBS olive oil
1 C onions (finely chopped)
1 TBS tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
28 oz. can of stewed (or plain) tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 C couscous
1 C chicken stock (boiling hot)
2 TBS butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Boil a cup of stock in the microwave and pour it over a cup of couscous in a heat proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. At that point, fluff it with a fork and set it aside.
2. Using a non-stick pan, sauté the onion in 2 TBS of olive oil until soft. Add the tomato paste and sugar. Cook for about a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes. Season with some salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook until the flavors meld. About 3 minutes.
3. Pour the tomato over the couscous and mix well.
4. Wipe out the pan. Melt the butter in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Put the couscous mixture into the pan. Pat it down with the back of a spoon to make a flat pancake that fills the sauté pan.
5. Cover and let cook over very low heat for about 12 minutes or until the edges are light brown and crispy.
6. Loosen the sides with a spatula. Put a plate over the top of the pan and invert it, so the crispy bottom ends up on top.
7. This can be served warm or at room temperature, making it an excellent dish for a buffet.
Now, for a caveat. The first time I made this at home, I used Israeli (pearl shaped) couscous. The larger grains were more than crispy; they were hard little bullets. The soft inside was delicious, so if you want to use Israeli couscous, skip crisping the bottom and just spoon it as a side dish.
The original recipe is available online. Better yet, get your hands on the cookbook. It’s worth owning.