I realize I’m going slightly off-season by highlighting eggplant, but when it’s 80-something degrees and it’s still officially winter, I can’t do a steaming bowl of soup. I just can’t.
I’ve been wanting to try making Israeli couscous, the funky ball-shaped pasta (which reminds me of those bubbles at the bottom of bubble tea) at home, and turns out, it’s crazy-easy. Ten minutes’ cooking time and you’re on your way.
As you can see, I’ve loaded this up with eggplant as opposed to doing a couscous-heavy salad, simply because I’d rather have more veg than carb, but you can play around with the proportions as you wish.
A terribly simple dish, this is all about texture and contrast and brightness, and it comes together in a half-hour or less. I made the couscous ahead of time, put it in the fridge, then added warm eggplant on top — but every bit of this could be made in advance, and served for a light dinner or a side.
For spring and summer, this is going to be perfect — but right now, when it already feels like that in Texas, it’s pretty perfect, too.
Israeli Couscous + Eggplant
Makes 4 servings
- Herby oil
- 1 cup olive oil
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + 2 for eggplant
- 3 cups uncooked Israeli couscous
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- sea salt
- 1 large eggplant, chopped into 1-inch cubes
- zest of 1 lemon
- about 15 fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
- Make the Herby oil. Put the oil, thyme leaves and chopped basil in a small saucepan over low heat. let cook for 10 minutes, let cool completely, then pour into a jar and keep in the fridge.
Save time: Make the Herby oil a day or so in advance.
- Put the shallot and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook until the shallot softens and becomes translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the couscous. Cook and stir frequently until the couscous turns golden. Add the 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth plus 2 cups of water, stir, and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Cover and reduce the heat to low, and let the couscous simmer for 10 minutes or until it has absorbed all of the liquid.
Save time: Make the couscous in advance and keep in the fridge.
- Roast your eggplant. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Toss the eggplant with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus more if needed), add sea salt and pepper to taste, and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned, turning once.
- Assemble the salad. Put as much couscous as you’d like in a large bowl (I used about 3 cups). Add the lemon zest, about half of the fresh mint and basil, some of the herb oil, and toss. Add the eggplant and almonds. Sprinkle additional fresh herbs on top. Serve warm, cold, or room temperature.