I discovered a new comfort food. It started a few weeks ago when I was watching reruns of “The Next Iron Chef: Season 2” for desperately-needed kitchen inspirations, and even though I’ve never even heard of half of the ingredients they use or dishes they create, one caught my eye (and my stomach!). Instead of using rice in a typical Asian dish, one chef ingeniously substituted…
Israeli couscous! Also known as Ptitim (its traditional Hebrew name) or pearl couscous, it’s like pasta since it’s made of wheat, but it’s the shape of couscous and has the texture of rice. It was recently concocted in the 1950s when rice was scarce in Israel, and although it’s typically cooked in boiling water like pasta or couscous, Ptitim can also be baked or used in soups and risottos.
When I went to the grocery store, luck was on my side. Israeli couscous was just being introduced, and since it was on sale, I immediately bought a box. I chose whole-wheat (I’m trying to stay healthy!), but they also stocked plain and tri-colored. (Look for it near the rice and beans!)
Now that I had my new and interesting ingredient, I needed a dish to try it out. Running short on time, I tossed it in a pot of boiling water, pulled out some spinach to sauté, and threw in a little feta cheese. One word: yum! The soft, tender pearls were the ideal comfort food texture, and the salt from the feta perfectly balanced out this delicious side dish.
Israeli Couscous with Feta and Spinach
serves 1 as a side
For slightly harder Israeli couscous, use slightly less than a 2:1 water:couscous ratio. Top with a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
¼ c. Israeli couscous
½ c. water
½ c. chopped spinach
2 tbsp feta cheese
- In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring the water to boil. Add in the Israeli couscous and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let Israeli couscous simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While Israeli couscous cooks, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add spinach and sauté for 4-5 min, or until spinach wilts and turns deep green in color. Season with salt, remove from skillet, and set aside.
- When Israeli couscous is done, stir in cooked spinach and feta. Serve immediately.