EATING FOR LIFE

Israeli couscous brings bits of nutty flavor to American plates

Updated: 2013-11-20T01:26:33Z

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA

The Kansas City Star

A decade ago, little yellow granules of North African couscous washed up on our plates. These days Israeli couscous is making a similar ripple.

Typically used as a substitute for rice or orzo, Israeli couscous is larger (about the size of peppercorns) and rounder than North African couscous. The flavor also is nuttier because the granules are toasted, but like pasta it is still a quick-cook option.

The Star’s recipe for Spicy Chopped Cucumber Couscous Salad is a tasty base for all manner of vegetables and proteins. Couscous is a good source of vegetarian protein, high in fiber and rates low on the glycemic index.

•  Shopping tip: Isreali couscous may be labeled in several ways: Look for maftoul or “pearl” couscous. It may be stocked in the ethnic aisle or the health food aisle, depending on the store. Steam according to package directions.

•  Serving tip: Do not sprinkle with peanuts until just before serving.

Spicy Chopped Cucumber Couscous Salad

Makes 4 to 6 side-dish servings

1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup cooked Israeli couscous

1 large cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped roasted peanuts

Combine vinegar and sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 20 seconds. Remove from microwave and add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine couscous, cucumber and cilantro. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture. Stir gently to blend.

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes for the flavors to infuse.

Serve salad cold or at room temperature with peanuts sprinkled on top.

Per serving, based on 4: 147 calories (16 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 25 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 43 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipe developed exclusively for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss. To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, The Star’s food editor and restaurant critic, call 816-234-4347, send email to jsilva@kcstar.com or follow her on Facebook. Follower her on Twitter: @kcstarfood and @chowtownkc.

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