Cooking Class: A great grain

Used often in North African Jewish cuisine, with soup and meat, couscous can be used in many non-traditional ways.

Squash and kohlrabi salad (photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
Squash and kohlrabi salad
(photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
Couscous can replace pasta or potatoes in summer salads, can be great as a side dish and in stuffing, and can replace flour in desserts. Using the instant kind makes it easy and foolproof.
In the following recipes, local chefs incorporated couscous in imaginative and delicious ways, creating light and healthy dishes.
Makes 6
A very refreshing salad, courtesy of chef Amir Khalfon of the Carmel Forest Spa Hotel.
✔ 3 mangos, peeled and cut into 2 cm. x 2 cm. cubes ✔ 1⁄3 bag Mishpaha Hama couscous ✔ Bunch arugula leaves ✔ 1 sprig green onion✔ Horseradish sprouts, about 1⁄2 cup ✔ 40 gr. cashew nuts ✔ 100 gr. blue cheese
Vinaigrette ✔ 5 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 3 Tbsp. carob honey ✔ 2 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 tsp. ginger, grated ✔ Salt and pepper
Prepare couscous according to instructions. Place all ingredients in a salad bowl except cheese and nuts. Mix vinaigrette well and pour over salad. Arrange on a serving plate and sprinkle with cheese and nuts.
Chef Tom Kabalo of Deca offers a couscous salad that is a meal in itself.
✔ 200 gr. Mishpaha Hama couscous ✔ 1 kohlrabi, peeled, sliced into thin strips ✔ 1 piece squash (about 100 gr.), sliced into thin strips ✔ 1 tsp. powdered sugar ✔ Juice of 1⁄2 lemon ✔ Handful of roasted squash seeds ✔ Bunch sprouts ✔ 10-15 basil leaves ✔ 10-15 mint leaves ✔ 3 balls fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces ✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Salt and black pepper
Prepare couscous according to instructions. Place vegetable strips in a bowl. Using a sieve, sprinkle the sugar over them and mix. Add lemon juice and leave for 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the couscous. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and serve.
A very strong-flavored Mediterranean salad with local labaneh cheese is courtesy of Marrakesh restaurant’s chef Guy Peretz.
✔ 350 gr. Mishpaha Hama couscous ✔ 4 tomatoes, chopped and crushed ✔ 5 Tbsp. chopped parsley ✔ 5 sprigs green onion, chopped ✔ 1 Tbsp. chopped mint leaves ✔ 5 celery stalks, including leaves, chopped ✔ 5 radishes, sliced thinly ✔ 1⁄2 purple onion, chopped ✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ Juice of 1 lemon ✔ Salt and pepper ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. sumac ✔ 12 balls labaneh cheese in olive oil ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. za’atar✔ Iraqi pita bread (lafa)
Place couscous in a bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. oil and a little salt and mix. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the couscous, mix and leave covered for 5 minutes.
Cut the pita into small cubes, add olive oil mix and bake in a preheated 180º oven for 4 minutes until dry. Mix vegetables, herbs and couscous together and add croutons. Mix oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper and pour over vegetables.
Place cheese balls on top and sprinkle a little sumac and za’atar on top and serve.
Serves 2
A little more work, but the result is a gourmet dish, perfect for a summer dinner.
Courtesy of Amir Khalfon, chef of the Carmel Forest Spa Hotel.
For the fish: ✔ 2 fillets sea bass ✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 3 garlic cloves ✔ Juice of 1⁄2 lemon ✔ Zest of 1 lemon ✔ 2 sprigs thyme
For the eggplant: ✔ 2 eggplants, sliced lengthwise ✔ 2 cups Mishpaha Hama couscous ✔ 1 bunch parsley leaves ✔ 2 tomatoes, chopped ✔ 4 garlic cloves, chopped ✔ Salt and pepper ✔ Zest of 1 lemon
For the pepper salsa: ✔ 2 red peppers, roasted and peeled ✔ 3 garlic cloves ✔ Bunch coriander leaves ✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 10 pitted olives
For the garnish: ✔ Coriander leaves ✔ 3 radishes ✔ 1 chili pepper, sliced thinly ✔ 1 tsp. olive oil ✔ Zest of 1 lemon
Marinate fish in a mixture of oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme and lemon zest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare stuffing: Make couscous according to instructions.
Add tomatoes and parsley and season with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
Make salsa: cut roasted peppers into cubes. Add coriander, chili, olives, oil, salt and pepper, rub the eggplant slices with olive oil and roast over a dry heated heavy skillet about 1 minute on each side until golden.
Place a Tbsp. of couscous stuffing on each slice and roll. Take fish out of the marinade and sear about 2 minutes on each side.
Spoon salsa on a plate, place eggplant rolls in the center and place fish on top.
Makes 6-8
Amir Khalfon uses couscous in cakes and desserts.
This one is relatively easy and very tasty.
✔ 50 gr. dried apricot, diced ✔ 50 gr. pitted dates, diced ✔ 50 gr. dried figs, diced ✔ 50 gr. roasted crushed pecans ✔ 50 gr. roasted crushed almonds✔ 4 cups semolina (solet) ✔ 1 cup Mishpaha Hama couscous ✔ 1 cup oil ✔ 1 sachet baking powder ✔ 6 eggs ✔ Zest of 2 oranges
For the syrup: ✔ 1⁄2 cup sugar
✔ 1⁄2 cup orange juice ✔ 1⁄2 cup water
Soak couscous in lukewarm water for 10 minutes, and strain any leftover water. In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, semolina, couscous, dried fruit, baking powder, eggs and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
Transfer into a greased baking dish and bake at 170º for 25-30 minutes.
Make syrup: Place sugar, water and juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Pour syrup evenly over the cake while still hot. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.
 Recipes and pictures courtesy of Mishpaha Hama couscous.