Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms and Onions

My local Try-n-Save has a kosher appy section, with assorted middle-eastern sidedish-type items such as eggplant in tomato sauce, "health salad" (a combination of essentially a Cole slaw mixture marinated in vinegar and spices, which tastes better than it sounds) and kasha varniskes (buckwheat groats with bow tie noodles and onions ... one year I'll post the recipe). It also has my favorite: couscous with mushrooms and onions.

Israeli couscous are tiny round pasta balls, slightly larger than regular ol' couscous.  Sometimes called "pearled" couscous, Israeli couscous come baked, rather than steamed before packaging as with regular couscous. You can find Israeli couscous in the kosher, international or rice/grains section of your supermarket.

The store-bought version of my recipe uses plain Israeli couscous, but I've had good results with the whole wheat or tri-color variety as well. The store version oozes with oil.  I figured I could do a lot better tasting version with a lot less grease.

You can skip browning the couscous step, but in an attempt to save some time you will be sacrificing some flavor.  Oh well, it's only your family you're cooking for.  Not like they really deserve your best effort or anything.

Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms and Onions
Serves 4

1 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, halved then thinly sliced
8 oz. white mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 cup Israeli Couscous, any style
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/8 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste.

Place a 3 or 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.  When hot, add oil, wait 10 seconds, then add sliced onions.  Stirring constantly, saute onions over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until slightly reduced and slightly browned around the edges.

Add mushrooms.  Continue to saute another 5-8 minutes or until mushrooms are reduced and the moisture released evaporates. 

Add couscous and saute an additional 3 minutes or until couscous juuuust begin to lightly toast.  

Stir in salt and pepper, then slowly pour in water.  Increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for 10-12 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.  Fluff with a fork before serving warm or hot.  Maybe be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.  Drizzle on 2 tablespoons of water before reheating.


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