Will wonders never cease? I actually cooked a meal at home last night - and a tasty meal at that!
This dish is based on Bev Bennett's recipe for Couscous Pilaf with Chicken and Mushrooms that appeared recently in the New Haven Register. Mama Diva passed it on to me last weekend with her recommendation. I varied the ingredients according to what I had on hand; substituting some cooked roast chicken for the chicken breast, adding some asparagus because it seemed like a good idea, and finishing the dish with some freshly grated Parmesan, because - why not?
The somewhat whimsical addition of garlic scapes is the result of my bro's largess. He's planted an enormous quantity of garlic this year and he favored me with what seems like 5 pounds of fresh scapes! I expect they'll be making their way into just about everything I cook this week. Stay tuned.
If you're hungry and in a hurry, this is the meal for you. Its quick, nutritious, filling and altogether delightful. If you don't have any cooked chicken on hand, please consult the original recipe for instructions on using skinless, boneless chicken breasts, as the directions will vary accordingly.
Israeli Couscous with Chicken, Mushrooms, Asparagus and Garlic Scapes:
- 3 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cups Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- pinch of Kosher salt and some freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup of cubed cooked chicken
- 1 teaspoon of butter
- 2/3 cup Israeli couscous
- 1 1/4 cups hot chicken broth
- 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 fresh garlic scapes, minced (optional)
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling
- some chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When it begins to shimmer, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring as needed, until mushrooms are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and the Herbes de Provence and saute for one minute, then season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the cooked chicken and continue sauteing and stirring for 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of butter, allow it to melt, then pour in the Israeli couscous. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the couscous to toast and brown slightly. Add the hot chicken broth and stir well to combine, scraping any browned bits up from the bottom of the pan. Add the asparagus, the garlic scapes and the leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme. Stir well to combine.
Bring the mixture to the boil then immediately reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until couscous is tender and most of the broth has been absorbed. Before serving, add in 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and stir to melt and combine.
Serve immediately, garnished with some chopped fresh parsley and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Ms. Bennett's recipe suggests that this is a meal for two, but I believe my version yielded enough for four. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Should you wish to go the vegetarian route, you could certainly leave out the chicken and substitute some vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Either way, you'll be rewarded with a quick and altogether satisfying meal. Round it out with a nice big salad or some steamed veggies and call it dinner. I sure did!