Israeli couscous-stuffed squash with toasted cashews

dry Israeli couscous with bay leaves and a cinnamon stick

Israeli couscous, also known as ptitim, pearl couscous, or Ben Gurion‘s rice, is probably my favorite pasta. To prepare, it is usually simmered with stock or water, and fresh ingredients like parsley and lemon zest are often added at the end of the cooking time to brighten up the flavor. Toasting the couscous with a cinnamon stick and bay leaves brings out an array of wonderful aromas, and cashews provide a nice texture element as well as a complement to the ptitim’s natural nuttiness.
I’m not a huge fan of using fruit in savory dishes, but you can add some diced apples or raisins to the couscous before baking it for a sweet touch. For even more sweetness, sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on the inside of the squash before baking.

Israeli couscous-stuffed carnival squash with toasted cashews

» 1/2 carnival or acorn squash, seeded & de-stringed
» 1/2 c raw cashew pieces
» 2 tbsp Earth Balance or olive oil
» 2 cloves garlic, minced
» 1 1/2 c Israeli couscous
» 2 bay leaves
» 1 cinnamon stick
» 1 3/4 c vegetable or faux chicken broth
» 1/4 tsp salt
» 2 tsp lemon juice
» optional toppings: chopped parsley, lemon zest, dried cranberries, raisins, chopped apples, ground cinnamon, roasted squash seeds

Preheat oven to 350F.
Brush squash interior with olive oil or Earth Balance, place face down on a cooking sheet or baking dish, and bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until barely fork tender.
While squash is baking, toast cashews in a dry, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until cashews are fragrant and slightly golden. Set aside.
Heat Earth Balance or olive oil in saucepan over medium heat.
Add garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring and scraping to prevent burning.
Add couscous, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves and toast until couscous is browned.
Add broth and salt, bring to a boil, cover, and turn heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all broth is absorbed.
When all of the broth has been absorbed into the couscous, remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick, add toasted cashews and lemon juice, and fluff with a fork.
Add optional toppings, if desired, and scoop a scant 3/4 cup of cooked couscous into the baked squash.
Put the squash back into the oven at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

Israeli couscous-stuffed carnival squash with toasted cashews, steamed broccoli, and grilled balsamic tofu

Protein: tofu! Simple Soyman plain tofu, pressed and marinated in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, white wine, soy sauce, maple syrup, olive oil, and minced fresh rosemary for about an hour, then grilled for about 5 minutes per side.
On the side, I had steamed broccoli tossed with a few drops of soy sauce and a few drops of lemon juice.

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3 Responses to Israeli couscous-stuffed squash with toasted cashews

  1. Emmy says:

    Hoe beautiful does that Israeli Couscous look! I will have to find some!

  2. Emmy says:

    That should have been How!!! Sorry!

  3. Pingback: Need to Make: December | Tiny Green Kitchen

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