Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cherry Walnut Spinach with Israeli Couscous

This is an interesting dish, it could be a side dish, or you could serve it over rice or pasta. I chose Israeli Couscous. If you haven't had this, #1 it means that you haven't had my Rosemary Couscous Chickpea Salad, and I'm going to tell you right now that means you are missing out. It is very different than regular couscous (which I also love)- its more like little balls, and has a really fun unique texture.

 What you need...
.25 cup dried cherries
.25 cup chopped walnuts
.5 onion
about 3 garlic cloves, chopped
10oz fresh spinach (baby, probably is best)
olive oil
a splash of chicken/veggie broth, white wine, or more oil
.5 -2/3 cup dry couscous
2oz soft cheese (goat cheese, feta would be best)

What to do with it...
First, start the couscous. Heat up a few teaspoons of oil in a sauce pan and lightly toast the couscous. I made .5 cup for a light dinner that served 2, if you're hungrier, make more. Once its getting brown, put in twice as much water as you had put in couscous, cover, and lightly simmer.

Now, start with the topping. First, heat a few teaspoons of onion and brown the garlic and the onion. Once the onion is about halfway done (so, sort of getting soft, but not brown), toss in the walnuts and the cherries. The walnuts will toast a bit, and the cherries soften and plump up. I put my cherries in right when I put in the onions, and I think they were a bit overcooked.
Now, dump in about half a cup of broth, and let it cook for a minute to get hot and start steaming, then throw in the spinach. If you're making this as a side dish for a bunch of people, put in more- there enough of the onion/cherry/walnut mixture that you could probably have almost twice as much spinach if you wanted. I never cease to be amazed at how much spinach shrinks up.

Once its all cooked toss in the crumbled cheese. Now, I had on my hands some super delicious soft cheese from the kind of friends who come and stay and leave the fridge stocked with multiple super delicious cheeses. Now, the thing is, I think that was a mistake. The original recipe called for goat cheese, and I think they were right- because, my cheese kind of melted away.

This was unique and tasty. I think mine would have been tastier with different cheese and less cooked cherries, but I will definitely be trying it again!

*note- this recipe would be veeeeery easy to make vegetarian (use veggie broth not chicken broth) or vegan (skip the cheese). you could even add small piece of firm tofu to add some protein.

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