How to cook israeli couscous (ptitim)?
Does anyone have any suggestions of what to do with israeli couscous/ptitim? I bought some recently but don't really know the best thing to do with it. I had it once in some sort of formulation where it was with sweet potatoes, I think spinach or kale, and a couple of other vegetables, with some light but slightly sweet sauce/herb? Does this preparation sound familiar to anyone?
Israeli couscous really isn't any different than other varieties, except for the fact that it's larger and I find it takes a bit longer to cook. But if you bring about 1 1/2 cups of water or stock (chicken, beef, whatever you like) to a boil, stir in a half teaspoon of salt and perhaps a tablespoon of olive oil, then add about a cup of your couscous, stir and cover immediately and remove it from the heat. Then set it aside (covered - don't peek) for about 10 - 15 minutes you should be able to fluff it with a fork and serve it.
Couscous is so versatile that it can be prepared as a savory dish or a sweet dish. Adding copped meat, vegetables, grated cheeses, herbs and spices makes a savory dish.
I like to add nuts, pieces of fruit, sometimes bits of left over meats and other ingredients to it (even some seafoods e.g. crab or lobster are good) with appropriate herbs and spices.
By selecting ingredients that provoke your personal interest, you can make a remarkably good dessert.. Fruit, cinnamon, sweetener, etc. make a nice dessert couscous.
The label for Trader Joe's Israeli couscous with orzo and baby garbanzos calls for simmering, covered, for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed. It takes a little longer and even then, the mix is not ideal because the couscous and orzo are then perfect but the garbanzos are still overly firm. I'd rehydrate small, instant couscous off-heat, but not the larger Israeli form.
I've only made it once, but when I did I cooked it like pasta in a lot of water and then drained the excess off. I made a fresh basil pesto and tossed the couscous with it along with some grated grana padano cheese. It may not have been a traditional preparation, but it was delicious! I really liked the texture of the larger grains- unique and fun.
My Israeli cookbook has a couple of recipes for ptitim. One is conceptually similar to the Italian dish risi e bisi, using ptitim and mung beans in place of rice and peas.
Bring one cup of mung beans to a boil in a large pot of water, then drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat oil and add two large chopped onions. Saute until they are translucent.
Add three cloves chopped garlic and one cup finely chopped herbs of your choice (parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, sage, etc) and saute two more minutes.
Add ptitim and cook three more minutes, then add the mung beans.
Add five cups stock (chicken or vegetable), bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, let sit a few more minutes and serve.
The other is for a quick one-dish meal with chicken and vegetables.
Chop two large onions and saute lightly. Add two chopped carrots, two cloves chopped garlic, and one cup sliced mushrooms and saute another four or five minutes until they start to brown.
Add one diced chicken breast and cook, stirring, until it becomes white.
Add two finely chopped tomatoes, two cups ptitim, 1/2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and a pinch each of powdered cardamom, caraway, cloves, cumin, and coriander seed.
Stir to mix, then add 2 1/4 cups boiling chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes until ptitim are tender and liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat and fluff with a fork , then mix in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
Let sit for ten minutes and then serve.
So many ways. My favorite fast prep is to saute some onions and mushrooms until soft, add the ptitim and toast until very lightly browned, add boiling chicken stock, cover, and simmer until the stock is absorbed. The result is very much like an old-style egg barley.
You can also handle it as a risotto as in the linked recipe:
Of course, if you keep kosher just use the method and swap out the non-kosher ingredients.