Recipe: Israeli couscous, lentils, red wine vinaigrette

Israeli couscous is adorable: when cooked, the pasta transforms into dainty white pearls, smooth, round, and cuddly.  Like regular couscous, it cooks in a jiffy (though it needs a bit of simmering).  I like the Israeli kind better because the couscouses remain plump and chewy, and soak up flavor very well.

When debating what to flavor the couscous with, I recalled this simple lentil salad from David Lebovitz.  I tried it a couple weeks ago and reveled in the combination of red wine vinegar and mustard, which I thought could work equally well with the couscous.  I didn’t have shallots but 1/2 an onion sauteed with the garlic is a fine replacement, and I tossed in a drained can of lentils as well.  What resulted was a satisfying, filling, cheap but not cheap-tasting homemade meal, good for dinner plus a couple meals’ worth of leftovers.  I topped it with baked kale chips and ate it hot off the stove, but I’m thinking this dish would be just as delicious as a salad, at room temp, perhaps for a picnic lunch.  The rain has hit us hard the past couple days, but word is that it will be sunny and 70 degrees this weekend.  Let us hope!

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Israeli couscous with lentils and red wine vinaigrette
– serves 3-4 –

8 oz. Israeli couscous
15 oz. can lentils, drained (black beans would also work well)
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Herbs if you have them (thyme or parsley)

Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil until the onion is tender. Add the couscous and stir around to coat in oil. Add water (about the same volume as couscous, maybe a little more), red wine vinegar, mustard, at least a teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover pot and let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until couscous has absorbed liquid and is tender. Add a bit more water if couscous dries out before it cooks. Toss into a bowl and adjust seasonings if necessary. Top with baked kale chips. Can be served hot, warm, or chilled.

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