If you’re looking for a show-stopper recipe for a summer picnic, brunch, pot-luck or for a delightful side for a grilled chicken, beef, pork or seafood dinner, this Israeli Couscous Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes is it!
We’re pulling out some Café favorites this weekend. Summertime favorites. You know, those delightful treats that, if they could talk, would be shouting “SUMMER! SUMMER! SUMMER!” Recipes like this fabulous Israeli Couscous Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes. Every time I serve this, it gets gobbled up, always with rave reviews!
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach packed
- 1 cup fresh herbs packed (I used about 3/4 basil, then filled the cup up with thyme and a bit of rosemary - you could use all basil if you don't have access to a variety of fresh herbs)
- 2 cups Israeli couscous 12 ounces, (also called pearl pasta)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- lemon zest from one lemon
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- water as needed
- 8 ounces tiny frozen peas
- 2 medium red heirloom tomatoes* cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) dice
- 4 medium yellow or orange heirloom tomatoes* cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) dice
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the 6 cups of spinach and blanch for 10 seconds. Add the fresh herbs and immediately, with a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach-herb mixture to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.
Wait until water returns to a boil, then add the couscous and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the couscous and spread it out on a large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to prevent clumping. Add the tiny peas and toss again. Let the couscous-pea mixture cool to room temperature.
In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
Squeeze the excess water from the spinach-herb mixture and coarsely chop it. Transfer to bowl of food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper and olive oil and process until mixture is fairly smooth. If too thick, add a bit of water to make a consistency that will blend into the couscous. Taste and season with more sea salt and pepper as needed.
Transfer the couscous and peas to a large serving bowl and stir in some of the pesto (you might not need all of the pesto - start with about half and add more to taste. Use any left over for a pizza or pita pizza base, as a sandwich spread or you could even spread a little goat cheese on some crostini and add a dollop of this pesto, delicious!) Gently fold in the tomatoes. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.
* ~ If you don't have heirloom tomatoes, any type of summer tomato will do, just be sure to use a ripe juicy tomato, not a hothouse grocery store variety.
Adapted from Food and Wine