Israeli Couscous Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

  Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

There’s been a lot of cooking lately, not that you could tell by the sporadic posts around these parts. The trouble with cooking is that a recipe that looks amazing on Pinterest turns out to be a dud. Case in point: the overly salty falafel I made earlier this week. Sometimes it’s me though, and I discover that fish tacos were never meant to be eaten like nachos. That there is a reason you don’t see them on menus, genius. Sigh.

All that is to say – there is quality control around here, it just means that when I hit a rough patch like I have the past few weeks I post less frequently than I’d like while I fiddle around getting things just right. My goal is only to share recipes I’d be proud to serve, or pass along to my friends, like this one here.

  Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

This essentially a pasta salad made a little fancy with additions like crumbled goat cheese and toasted pistachios. It also offers a little bit of a departure from the classic vinaigrette or mayonnaise-based dressings by incorporating pomegranate molasses.

If you’re wondering where on earth you’ll get pomegranate molasses the way I did when I first saw it in the ingredient list, let me reassure you. It’s easy to make it yourself by simmering plain pomegranate juice with a little sugar and fresh lemon juice until it reduces and thickens. I actually did it a few weeks ago following this recipe from Fine Cooking and it works perfectly, I bet it would also work with plain cranberry juice too if pomegranate isn’t available.

  Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous Salad with Cherries & Pistachios (serves 6-8 as a side)

Ingredients:
2 cups Israeli couscous (pearl pasta)
1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses
2 1/2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon raspberry vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw)
2 cups dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted pistachios
1 1/2 cups, packed fresh parsley and mint leaves
2 ounces crumbled plain goat cheese
4 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

Instructions:
In a medium sauce pan, bring two cups of salted water to a low boil, then add the couscous and simmer on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or according to the package directions until al dente.

While the couscous is cooking, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, champagne vinegar, raspberry vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and salt.

When the couscous is done, drain through a fine mesh sieve and place in a large mixing bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over while the pasta is still warm and stir together. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toast the pistachios in a dry skillet over low heat, chop the herbs and crumble the goat cheese. When the couscous is cooled to room temperature, stir in the prepped ingredients. Add the baby spinach just before serving.

Rewritten and adapted from Couscous Salad with Fresh Cherries by Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I needed a medium sauce pan, mesh sieve, medium bowl, and a small sauté pan. A cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring spoons, a liquid measuring cup, and a large mixing spoon. That’s it!

The Verdict:
I made a few changes to the original to reflect our preferences, a slight softening of the vinegar bite with a touch of raw sugar. A sprinkle of toasted pistachios to continue the Middle Eastern flavors, a generous crumble of goat cheese to balance against the tart cherries, a handful or so of baby spinach to bring the dish more firmly into the realm of salad. All told, this is a great side to serve during the final grilling parties of the summer and is simple to whip up in just a few minutes. My kind of recipe!

  Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Israeli Couscous with Cherries & Pistachios | Image: Laura Messersmith