Something fishy is going on

Make a Sicilian-inspired couscous meal with dishes such as fish couscous with saffron and anise sweet couscous with pistachios and almonds.

Sardines with couscous (photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
Sardines with couscous
(photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
Considered largely a food of North African cuisines, couscous is actually celebrated in Sicily, where they hold an annual Couscous Festival. Chef Mena Strum of Campanello in Tel Aviv, who specializes in Italian cuisine, created Sicilian- inspired recipes using the Israeli-made Mishpaha Hama couscous, which has won several competitions in Sicily.
Contrary to the way North Africans prepare couscous dishes, Sicilians prefer to serve it with fish and vegetables , cooked in the fresh, light Italian style. Try these recipes for a tasty, easy summer dinner.
Hot couscous salad Serves 6
✔ ½ bag Mishpaha Hama whole-grain couscous ✔ ¼ cup olive oil ✔ 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
✔ 1 hot red pepper, sliced (optional) ✔ ½ kg. cherry tomatoes, halved ✔ 300 gr. canned Italian artichoke quarters ✔ 300 gr. chickpeas soaked overnight and cooked (or use frozen pre-cooked ones) ✔ 2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only ✔ ½ cup dry white wine ✔ Salt and pepper
Prepare couscous according to directions on the package.
Heat oil in a heavy pan and add garlic and hot pepper. Sauté until garlic is golden but not brown, then add the tomatoes and mix lightly. Add drained artichokes and chickpeas, oregano and white wine. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking on high heat about 3 minutes. Add cooked couscous into the pan, mix and serve.
Sardines wit h couscous Serves 6
The inspiration for this dish came from a pasta dish served traditionally in Sardinia called Pasta alla Sarda. Here, Strum uses couscous instead of pasta.
✔ 1 bag Mishpaha Hama couscous ✔ Olive oil ✔ 2 red peppers, cubed
✔ 3 cloves garlic, minced ✔ ¼ cup white wine ✔ ½ cup capers ✔ 1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped ✔ About 18 fresh sardines, filleted ✔ A little flour ✔ Salt and pepper ✔ 6 individual oven-proof bowls or 1 large one
Heat oven to 180º.
Prepare couscous according to directions on the package.
Heat oil in a large pan, then add peppers and sauté lightly. Add garlic and mix. Pour wine into the pan and cook until it evaporates. Remove pan from the heat and transfer the contents into a bowl. Add capers, parsley and prepared couscous and stir.
Flour the sardines and fry lightly in oil. You may use the same pan. Line the oven- proof bowls with sardines and fill with the couscous mixture.
Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and turn each bowl onto a plate so that the sardines end up on top of the couscous. If using one large bowl, turn the mixture onto a large serving platter and serve in the middle of the table.
Fish couscous with saffron and anise Serves 6
✔ 1 bag Mishpaha Hama fine couscous ✔ ¼ cup olive oil ✔ 2 red onions cut into wedges ✔ 3 fennel bulbs cut into wedges ✔ 3 carrots, peeled and sliced ✔ 1 cup white wine ✔ 8 saffron threads ✔ 3 anise stars ✔ 5 allspice seeds ✔ Salt and pepper ✔ 1 kg. fillets of fresh sea fish
Prepare couscous according to directions on the package.
Heat oil in a large pot; add onions, fennel and carrots and sauté. Add white wine and cook until it evaporates. Add water to cover vegetables. Add saffron, anise, allspice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Cut fish fillets into wide strips and add to the pot. Cook for 3 more minutes.
Heap couscous on plates and spoon the fish stew on top of the couscous.Sweet couscous with pistachios and almondsServes 6
✔ 400 ml. freshly squeezed orange juice ✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 1 bag Mishpaha Hama thick couscous ✔ 250 gr. whole white almonds ✔ 250 gr. shelled pistachio nuts ✔ ½ kg. cherries, pitted
Heat orange juice in a saucepan, then add sugar and cook until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour the couscous into the juice mix and leave to soak up the liquids.
Lightly roast the almonds and pistachios in a dry pan over medium heat. Add to the couscous mixture. Add the cherries, mix and serve. Recipes and photos courtesy of Mishpaha Hama Couscous.