I’m a careful Costco shopper. Did you know Costco started in Seattle? We’ve been members for as long as I can remember. We go about every other month and I buy the same things over and over. Paper towels, toilet paper, canned tomatoes, chickpeas, garbage bags, olive oil, string cheese, Diet Pepsi, beer, wine. Occasionally I buy Ziploc bags, dish washing detergent, kids vitamins, ibuprofen, butter, Dijon mustard, dried pasta, some kind of cookbook, and nuts. I am very very happy to tell you that I no longer need to buy diapers or wipes. Or formula. Hallelujah.
My point here is that I don’t get sucked in. I know what I need and what I have room for. I see people’s carts and wonder “where are these people putting all this stuff?”. I am lucky in that I have plenty of room for impulse purchases, but I hate to have things on hand that I know I won’t use. So there is not a lot of impulse shopping at Costco.
Once in a great while, I see something and I pounce without thinking too carefully. I get sucked in by cheap pretzels and quinoa. About a year ago, I found a 5 pound bag of Israeli couscous and very happily put it in my cart. I love the stuff and it is not always that easy to find in regular grocery stores. That 5 pound bag has been mocking me from the basement storage room. Yes, thankfully I have a basement storage room for things like giant bags of Israeli couscous, but still. What I have realized is that, while I love Israeli couscous, it’s not something I use all that often.
In my searches for a salad for the summer yoga retreat, I was thrilled to remember this one tucked away in one of my notebooks. The flavors sounded wonderful, all things that I love, and it uses a lot of Israeli couscous. Because I knew there were going to be 18 of us, I doubled the recipe. The salad was a hit and partly because I loved it and partly because I still had lots of couscous, I made another giant portion of it to bring to a block party. I even held back some of it so I could serve it as a side dish at a dinner party the night after the block party. And yes, I still have couscous in that bag. A lot of it.
Israeli Couscous previously on Dana Treat: Couscous and Mograbiah with Oven-Dried Tomatoes
One Year Ago: Grilled Potato Slices with Salt and Vinegar
Israeli Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Gourmet
For roasted tomatoes and dressing
2 pints red grape or cherry tomatoes (1½ pounds)
3 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
¼ cup warm water
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2½ cups vegetable broth
2 cups Israeli couscous
½ cup Kalamata olives, pits removed and sliced in half
½ cup basil, thinly sliced
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Roast tomatoes and make dressing
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place tomatoes and garlic, still in its peel on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bake in the oven until the tomatoes are quite soft and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
Peel garlic and purée with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and ½ cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth. Set aside.
Bring broth to a boil in a large heavy saucepan and stir in couscous. Simmer for about 3 minutes then cover pan and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Spread couscous in 1 layer on a baking sheet and cool 15 minutes.
Transfer couscous to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, dressing, roasted tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. You may not need all the dressing so hold a bit back.
(DT: I found it best mix this salad with my hands so the tomatoes don’t get too squished. You can make the couscous and dressing a day ahead and store them separately. The couscous will stick together but add some of the dressing and work it with your hands before adding the rest of the ingredients.)