Adventures in Israeli Couscous

Israeli Couscous is a small, round semolina pasta that should not be confused with the tiny, yellow North African couscous; it is a different animal altogether! Sometimes called pearl couscous or maftoul, it resembles barley, or very small, white peas.

After being shaped and rolled into small balls, these semolina pearls are toasted in an open-flame oven. This distinguishes the couscous from most pasta, which is dried but not toasted. Toasting lends the couscous a distinctive, nutty flavor and particularly satisfying mouth-feel, and it also seals in the starch and reinforces the exterior, allowing the pearls to absorb liquid without falling apart. This is why Israeli couscous is ideal for saucy preparations whatever the sauce or reduction, the couscous absorbs the flavor beautifully, and the sauce sticks well to every tiny pearl.

Israeli Couscous is one of my favorite ingredients, and it is a pantry staple in my house. I love it for two reasons: it is incredibly…

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