Israeli Couscous with Summer Vegetables and Caramelized Tomato | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Israeli Couscous with Summer Vegetables and Caramelized Tomato

Israeli Couscous with Summer Vegetables and Caramelized Tomato

Israeli Couscous with Summer Vegetables and Caramelized Tomato/ Courtesy Alfred A. Knopf

4-6 servings

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Hurricane Katrina happened at the end of August, a moment when a bounty of summer vegetables was available as we landed in North Carolina. This dish capitalizes on them with all the nourishment of comfort food, the kind of thing we sorely needed after evacuating New Orleans. Toasting the tomato paste, as Safta taught me, adds a complex sweet-savory flavor—that one little technique is a trusted friend that I’ve relied upon through the years. Ingrained in my muscle memory and etched into my cooking, it made me feel she was with us in the kitchen during that crazy time.

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1 gallon plus 1⁄2 cup water, divided

2 tablespoons Morton kosher salt, divided

1 large eggplant

1 large zucchini

1 yellow onion, chopped

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup Israeli couscous

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

¾ cup tomato paste

½ cup assorted olives, black or green, pitted and halved

8 fresh basil leaves, torn

  1. Heat the broiler. Combine 1 gallon water and 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot, and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant and zucchini into roughly 1-inch pieces, then combine them with the chopped onion, 1⁄4 cup olive oil, and remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Spread everything in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the pieces every 5 minutes or so, until they are evenly golden and the eggplant is very tender.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, add the couscous, and cook for about 6 minutes, until it’s tender and still has a little bite. Drain it, and set aside. 

  4. Strip the leaves from the thyme, and finely chop them with the parsley. Warm the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and herbs. Cook for just 30 seconds to 1 minute, before the garlic has a chance to brown. 

  5. Stir in the tomato paste, and continue to cook, breaking it up with your spoon, for 5 to 10 minutes, until it’s fragrant and deeply caramelized. Remove the skillet from the heat, and fold in the roasted vegetables, couscous, and remaining 1⁄2 cup water, followed by the olives and basil. Serve warm; leftovers keep well for a few days.

Excerpted from SHAYA by Alon Shaya. Copyright © 2018 by Alon Shaya. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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