I found myself thumbing through Jacques Pepin's More Fast Food My Way at Borders the other day and after finding several recipes in it I wanted to try and having a 30% off coupon in hand, I ended up buying it. (I have zero self control!) This recipe for Middle Eastern Couscous with Saffron looked especially good. Made with the larger semolina pasta referred to as Israeli couscous, its bright yellow color caught my eye.
Middle Eastern Couscous with Saffron
More Fast Food My Way, Jacques Pepin
2 Tbsp good olive oil
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
About 1 tsp crushed saffron pistils
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-salt prepared)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh tarragon or parsley for garnish
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and add the onion, pumpkin seeds and saffron. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the couscous and mix well. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, mix well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes longer to dry the grains and make them fluffy. Serve garnished with the herb sprigs.
Results: A very easy and tasty side dish with a pleasing yellow color. I liked the crunch from the pumpkin seeds and the light saffron flavor. I imagine that if you couldn't find Israeli couscous you could use rice or a small pasta and still get the exotic flavors and colors in the dish. I would make this again and look forward to trying more of the recipes from this book.