Israeli or pearl couscous are small, round granules with a pasta-like consistency. They are made from semolina and wheat. Because it is toasted rather than dried, it has a very nice nutty undertone to it and like pasta, it is a wonderful complement to a good sauce or seasoning. I like pearl couscous in salads, soups, and on its own, nicely flavored as a side dish. Here is a really nice recipe that I’ve adapted from the Gourmet Today cookbook. This goes well with any meat, but I especially like it with chicken and steamed broccoli.
Israeli Couscous with Mixed Mushrooms
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large shallots or one small onion finely chopped
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as button, shiitake, crimini and porcini, stemmed, trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ Kosher Salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-¼ cups (12 ounces) Israeli couscous
½ cup loosely packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they are soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms, soy sauce, and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid that the mushrooms give off has evaporated and they begin to brown. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.
Add the couscous to the mushroom mixture, along with the parsley and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, tossing to thoroughly combine until the butter is melted in. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.