Meatless Monday – Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Spinach & Morel Mushrooms

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50 Shades of…. Spring.  Israeli Couscous, sometimes called pearl couscous (especially in the U.S.) or even Maftoul (aka Palestinian couscous), is the perfect backdrop for this lovely dish featuring spring’s finest;  asparagus, baby spinach, morel mushrooms and sweet peas topped with lemon zest and fresh herbs.  This is another easy and delicious dinner you can get on the table in about 20 minutes.  It’s so pretty it doesn’t look like a nutritional powerhouse but it happens to be loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.  All of the vegetables are low in fat and calories but high in food value, and all four are surprising sources of protein.  Morels are also a great source of Iron and Vitamin D. For another boost of nutrients use whole wheat couscous.

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So what is couscous anyway?  I’ve been wanting to make this dish for a while and I even tried to get away with making it during Passover with the claim that Israeli couscous should be kosher for Passover, until I was advised by my son, Eric, that couscous is actually a pasta product made with wheat.  I never gave it much thought but I suppose I always thought it was it’s own grain, like quinoa or bulgur.  Whoops!  Pearled couscous is larger than traditional couscous and round and smooth like a small pearl. It has a wonderful chewy consistency and makes a delicious and attractive base that showcases whatever you toss it with.  If you are unable to find pearled couscous, orzo, which is a rice shaped pasta product, would be a good substitute.  This spring dish is mostly shades of green (perhaps not quite 50) except for the splash of color given by the lemon zest.  Other good and coorful vegetable choices would be strips of sauteed red bell pepper or carrots.
TIPS: If you want to make this more filling, add a sprinkle of feta cheese or drained and rinsed garbanzo beans.
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ISRAELI COUSCOUS WITH ASPARAGUS, SPINACH AND MOREL MUSHROOMS
8 oz couscous
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup morel mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, slivered
⅓ cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Zest from one lemon
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ Cup feta (optional)
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  • Cook couscous in 1 1/3 cup water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil covered until al dente (8-10 minutes).  While couscous is cooking trim asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Slice larger morel mushrooms in halves or quarters but leave smaller mushrooms whole. Chop parsely and chop or slice garlic into slivers.

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  • In a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute mushrooms and garlic 2-3 minutes then remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.

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  • Add asparagus to the pan and saute a few minutes. Pour vegetable broth around the asparagus and reduce a few minutes.

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  • Add peas and the morels.  Simmer 4- 5 minutes. Asparagus should be cooked but still bright green and slightly al dente.

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  • Fold spinach in until just wilted.

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  • Stir couscous into vegetable mix.

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  • To serve top with lemon zest and parsley.  Sprinkle with feta if desired.

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Spinach and Morel Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150422_191600

8 oz Couscous
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup morel mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, slivered
⅓ cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Zest from one lemon
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ Cup feta (optional)
  • Cook couscous in 1 1/3 cup water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil covered until al dente (8-10 minutes).  While couscous is cooking trim asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Slice larger morel mushrooms in halves or quarters but leave smaller mushrooms whole.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute mushrooms and garlic 2-3 minutes then remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add asparagus to the pan and saute a few minutes
  • Pour vegetable broth around the asparagus, add peas and the morels back in.  Simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Fold spinach in until just wilted.
  • Stir couscous into vegetable mix.
  • To serve top with lemon zest and parsley.

One thought on “Meatless Monday – Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Spinach & Morel Mushrooms

  1. Reblogged this on goodmotherdiet and commented:

    It’s morel mushroom time! Once a year, usually in the spring, prized morels poke their heads out of the ground, only to be gathered up by avid ‘shroomers. Whereas, I didn’t hunt for them myself, I did some gathering of my own at the market and will be revisiting this recipe from last year. It was a goodie, showcasing yummy morel mushrooms, asparagus, peas and spinach on a bed of Israeli Couscous, and definitely worth reposting. Happy Spring!

    Like

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