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Shareworthy Recipe: Israeli Couscous and Mushroom Pilaf

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want the ScienceofMom blog to be.  Is it a science blog?  Not completely.  A mommy blog?  I want it to be more…   A food blog?  Sort of, if baby food counts.  I don’t want it to be too scattered, but I’m finding that my readers are responding to all of these things, at least so far.  So maybe some balance is good.  Besides, I’m still trying to finish up that last research paper, so I haven’t had much time to work on sciency posts.

If I was going to have a food blog, it would probably focus on easy, healthy ways to prepare local food. These days, I don’t tackle anything in the kitchen unless it is simple enough that I can do it while a baby crawls around my feet, steals my kitchen utensils, and otherwise distracts me every two minutes.  I’m also looking for recipes that a 10-month-old will enjoy – that is, things that are soft and easy to chew.  And BabyC loves new flavors, but this is probably not the time to experiment with fire-hot chili.

I tried a new recipe this week that was a hit with everyone in our family:  Israeli Couscous and Mushroom Pilaf from the Washington Post, which credits Stephanie Witt Sedgwick for the recipe.  I adapted it only slightly.

I only recently discovered Israeli couscous, and I love it.  Israeli couscous is actually known as “Ptitim” in Israel.  It is a toasted pasta shaped like “little balls” – sorry, that’s just the best way to describe it.  Here is a tidbit from the Wikipedia page:

“While considered a children’s food in Israel, elsewhere in the world Israeli couscous is treated as an ingredient for “trendy delicacies.”  In the United States, it can be found on the menus of contemporary American chefs and can be bought in gourmet markets.”

So Israeli couscous is both child-friendly and gourmet.  Excellent.  I found it in the bulk foods section of our local Market of Choice, a beautiful regional grocery store here in Oregon, but I’ll bet you might find it in the Middle Eastern section of your local grocery store.

Here are a few reasons to love this recipe:

1.  It took 20 minutes, start to finish, and I am not one of those expertly fast food choppers.  Plus I had a baby crawling at my feet.
2.  Israeli couscous has really fun texture that I love.  BabyC was WAY into it, and I bet toddlers would get a kick out of it, too.
3.  This recipe would be easily adaptable to use whatever you have on hand.  Substitute or add other veggies, and throw in some shredded chicken, and you have a beautiful one-pot meal.

Israeli Couscous and Mushroom Pilaf
Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, Washington Post
6 servings

-2 Tbs. olive oil
-1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
-3/4 lb. assorted mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/2 – 3/4 inch chunks
-1 3/4 c. Israeli couscous
-2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
-2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
-2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives

Heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan or pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, until it softens and is translucent.  Continuing to stir occasionally, add the mushrooms and cook 6-7 minutes, until they are soft.

Add the couscous to the pan and push it around to lightly toast it.  Then add the chicken broth, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir, then cover and cook for 8-10 minutes over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is soft.  Remove from heat.  Add the herbs and stir to incorporate.

Enjoy!  And let me know if you try any fun adaptations!

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