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By Madhur Jaffrey

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus and Fresh Mushrooms

Yield: 3-4 servings

  2 cups Israeli couscous
  3 Tablespoons olive oil
  1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  2 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced lengthwise
  4-5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced lengthwise
  2 or 3 fresh morel mushrooms, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
  ½ pound asparagus, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch sections
  ½ cup vegetable stock
  ¼ cup dry white Vermouth
  3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  Freshly ground black pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add 1½ tablespoons of salt and stir, then add the couscous. Let it boil rapidly for about 7 minutes, or until it is almost but not quite ready; it should have a hard core in its very center. Drain the couscous quickly and then rinse it thoroughly under cold running water, turning it over several times. Leave in a sieve or colander.

Put the oil in a large sauté pan or large frying pan (preferably nonstick) and set over high heat. When hot, put in the shallot and garlic. Stir for 20 seconds and put in all the mushrooms. Stir rapidly for about 1 minute, or until the mushrooms look satiny. Now put in the asparagus. Stir for 30 seconds then add the stock, vermouth and about 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and keep cooking on high heat for 2½ minutes. Put in the partially cooked couscous and cook, uncovered for another 2½ minutes on high heat, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat. Check the salt. You will probably need about ¼ teaspoon more. Add the salt, pepper, cheese and parsley. Stir to mix and serve immediately.

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