Israeli Couscous with Roasted Eggplant

I was waiting to get my haircut this afternoon when I came across this recipe, or a variation of it, in Bon Appetit. Once again, I had eggplant on the brain. We leave for Colorado in three days, which means  a cooking blitz to use the fruit and veggies that were in our Fair Shares CSA box: eggplant, sweet peppers, sunchokes, pears, figs, tomatoes and watermelon. I’ll probably give away the watermelon.

This would take care of the eggplant, and it looked delicious. I happened to have all of the ingredients, though I wasn’t 100 percent sure of the Israeli couscous. What is it? It’s larger than standard couscous, and similar to orzo. The texture reminds me of tapioca. After my haircut, I stopped at a hoity-toity market around the corner to pick some up just in case.

The eggplant is cut into a 1/2-inch dice, tossed with olive oil and roasted until it’s nice a crispy. It’s tossed with golden raisins, parsley, the couscous, and an aromatic cinnamon-cumin dressing. The result was a filling, sweet and delicate dish that could work as a side or an main course. Jeff and I ate it for dinner with a mesclun salad with bacon-wrapped figs (recipe will appear in a couple of days), and a couple of glasses of crisp Pinot Grigio.

Isreali Couscous with Roasted Eggplant
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 3/4-pound unpeeled eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (8 to 9 cups)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup Israeli couscous (if you can’t find this, substitute orzo and cook according to product directions(
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place eggplant cubes on sheet; drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender, turning occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook couscous in boiling salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water until cool; drain again. Place in large bowl.

Toast cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darkened, about 4 minutes. Grind seeds in spice mill; place in small bowl. Add vinegar, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons oil. Whisk to blend; season with salt and pepper. Mix in onion.

Add raisins, cilantro, eggplant cubes, and dressing to couscous. Toss to coat.

Serves 2-4 as a main course, or 6 as a side.


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