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
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.)