From the Magazines

August 2, 2012

Ever since my early 20’s, I have been getting food magazines in the mail.  The subscriptions have varied over the years but I have received at least one every month for 20 years.  (Current ones are Food & Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, and Saveur.  How about you?)

The magazines tend to pile up for months before I attack them with scissors, cut out the recipes that I want, and tape them into four binders that I have with 20 years worth of magazine recipes.  It is a long process and since the past few years have been pretty busy, it has literally been two years since I last did a scissor attack.  Two years worth of magazines is a lot of magazines.  There is no way I am moving those along with the other 9 billion things we have in our house so it was time to start whittling them down.

In the past, when I have started this process, I have just gone through them chronologically.  But that often meant I was paging through Christmas issues in July, or BBQ special issues while the Thanksgiving turkey was in the oven.  Reading about food that is completely out of season is not all that inspiring.  So this time, I decided to sort them out into season and start with the summer issues.  I was looking for some inspiration anyway and I certainly found it within the pages of June, July, and August magazines.

This recipe will surely become a favorite around here.  I’ve always been a fan of Israeli couscous – so much so that I had no fewer than three bags of it in my pantry.  Here it gets tossed with a pesto made from arugula and lots and lots of tomatoes.  I like basil pesto as much as the next person, but arugula is such a nice change.  It tastes brighter than its green cousin and just a tantalizing hint of bitterness.  The cooking time is minimal so it is a great choice for a hot night.  It is best served room temperature so it is great to bring to a potluck or a picnic (it also makes a lot and scales up easily.)  And if you are one of those lucky people who has tomatoes coming out of their ears, now you have a wonderful place to park them.

I served this salad along side a beautiful vegetable terrine that I was really excited about.  All of us picked at the terrine and had seconds of the couscous.

One Year Ago:  Tomato and Corn Pie
Two Years Ago:  Yeast Bread Sticks
Three Years Ago:  Grilled Potato Slices with Salt and Vinegar

Israeli Couscous and Tomato Salad with Arugula Pesto

Adapted from Food & Wine
6-8 servings

One of the things I don’t like about pesto is how oily it is.  I use a bit less oil in mine here.  If you like you can add a full ½ cup or you can drizzle additional over the finished salad if it seems too dry.

6 ounces arugula, plus additional leaves for garnish
2 cups Israeli couscous
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 pints multi-colored cherry tomatoes, halved

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the 6 ounces of arugula and blanch for 10 seconds.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the arugula to a colander.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain thoroughly.

Add the Israeli couscous to the boiling water and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente, about 10 minutes.  Drain the couscous and put it in a large wide bowl.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to prevent it from clumping.  Let the couscous cool to room temperature.

In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Let cool.

Squeeze the excess water from the blanched arugula and coarsely chop it.  Transfer the arugula to a food processor.  (DT:  I used my mini food processor for this job.)  Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese and the 1/3 cup of olive oil and process until the pine nuts are finely chopped.  Season the arugula pesto with salt and pepper.

Using a spatula, stir the pesto into the cooled couscous until well combined.  Gently fold in the tomatoes.  Garnish the salad with the remaining arugula leaves and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

(I didn’t try it but I’m sure you could make this salad earlier in the day.  Cover and refrigerate it but allow it to come to room temperature before you serve it.)


  1. I love this recipe. I usually roast my cherry tomatoes then throw them in w/ the Israeli couscous and kalamata olives, top with arugula and some olive oil and my favorite side dish is born.
    I have so many cherry tomatoes in the garden right now, I will try this version. Yummy looking. xo

    Comment by stacey snacks — August 3, 2012 @ 12:27 am

  2. I moved from Australia to Chicago in 1998, along with the myriad of boxes my husbands extended family schlepped across for me , I also schlepped a 12 year collection of Australian Vogue Entertaining – do you know how much those magazines weighed ?????

    Due to lack of library/bookshelf space in our townhouse they mainly remained boxed and I would periodically bring out a box and leaf through with nostalgia , remenicing about the different dishes I made throughout the years .

    Fast forward to October 2003. move to new house , a 3 year old and 10 month old = no time to read anything , so everything went into long term storage , back into the garage .

    Fast forward again to 2009 major clean-up of said garage and the crashing reality , that I needed to part with these magazines because , I had changed and evolved as a person , CEO of Household , as I like to call myself ,the previous incarnation that enjoyed these magazines was single and free to try out interesting dishes.

    Unable to physically through them into recycling , I schlepped 6 boxes to a store that buys old books and interesting magazines and walked away with a princely sum of around $60.00 – which I promply spent on a couple of cookbooks that I use on a regular basis.

    So, all was not lost , I valued those mazagines , I enjoyed them during a time in my life when they could be enjoyed and savoured, but I evolved as a person and the memories will stay with me forever, and life has evolved, because we now have the WWW.

    I know you will find the strength to put down the scissors, have a quiet moment with them and gently pass them onto others that can enjoy them as much as you have.


    Comment by Gourmet Goddess — August 3, 2012 @ 12:50 am

  3. I am a huge food magazine whore! I have way too many, as in piles, on the floor in my office. Sometimes I feel like I mainly pick them up for the gorgeous photography, and barley use the recipes. That is a habit I am trying to break starting this month (after I tripped over them). I should start a system such as yours …. binder would be better then the box that holds my clippings!

    I love this salad and am going to add it to our devour board. Always looking for new and interesting veggie heavy recipes!

    Comment by Denise — August 3, 2012 @ 1:42 am

  4. This is such a great coincidence! I pulled this very recipe from my file a few days ago and am making this for dinner tonight. Can’t wait! I have a similar process with recipes I cut from magazine. My cut pages tend to sit in a stack waiting to be filed (for ages). But, I just started an ipad subscription to Donna Hay. I’m not sure how I’ll handle the recipes I want to remember from ipad issues.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — August 3, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  5. Is the blanching of the arugula necessary? Would the consistency, or the taste be off if I didn’t blanch it first?

    Comment by Mbb — August 3, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  6. HOW DID YOU KNOW I have a freezer full of arugula pesto and a bunch of cherry tomatoes that are on their last legs? Thank you for this. Dinner tonight!

    Comment by Sarah — August 3, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  7. I really hope this post gives me inspiration to sort through my magazines because I have about four years worth and I can never find anything in them! It would be so much but if I had some kind of organization scheme. Perhaps by season. Hmm.

    This salad does sound really refreshing!

    Comment by Joanne — August 4, 2012 @ 2:51 am

  8. I just loved this post. It so describes my life. Oh, and the recipe sounds good too! I am drowning in a sea of recipes. I have binders all over the place, and rarely remember what I put anywhere even if they are categorized. I won’t have time to cook 1% of them before I die if I cook 24/7. Oh my, I love food!

    Comment by Katherine — August 4, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  9. Another fantastic post Dana!

    I’ve been searching for a recipe using Israeli couscous for a while now. This looks amazing! The combination of pesto and cherry tomatoes! Its going straight into the recipe folder for summer when the basil starts running wild again.

    Comment by Natasha — August 5, 2012 @ 3:12 am

  10. Another fantastic post Dana!

    I’ve been searching for a recipe using Israeli couscous for a while now. This looks amazing! The combination of pesto and cherry tomatoes! Its going straight into the recipe folder for summer when the basil starts running wild again.

    Comment by Natasha — August 5, 2012 @ 3:14 am

  11. This post is so timely for me. I’ve been thinking of doing my first ever magazine cull and I’m a bit scared! I’ve had a subscription to a food magazine since I was about 16 (usually Delicious, but also Gourmet Traveller and Cuisine – a NZ food mag). I’m in my mid-twenties now and the sheer volume of recipes to go through is overwhelming. I also feel a bit sad about destroying my collection, even though it’s crazy and impractical to have so many. Thank you for the inspiration to get a move on. The recipe looks so beautiful too. Best of luck preparing for the move Dana!

    Comment by Anna — August 5, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  12. I must say I felt a sharp pain reading your post… it’s hard to believe, but during our move I seem to have lost my book with clippings from cooking magazines. Not 20 years worth, but maybe 5 years…

    I keep trying to tell myself it will show up in a box, but part of me knows I probably placed a box in the “donate to library” that should not have been there. Or, worse yet, I discarded it without realizing.

    anyway, we lose the rings, but keep the fingers, right? ;-)

    great recipe, I am a huge lover of Israeli couscous… as to magazines, I subscribe to Fine Cooking (donated my whole collection to the library, after much inner debate), and Bon Appetit

    Comment by SallyBR — August 5, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  13. I do subscribe to more than 10 cooking mag (English & French). Right now I have a closet full of mag ready to be cut out. Last yr I started to use Zinio on the IPad and gradually I am switching to digital. Love mags.

    Comment by Helene — August 6, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

Leave a comment