Israeli cous cous is quickly becoming a favorite grain in my home. If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a treat. They are plump little balls of semolina pasta, quite unlike the familiar soft texture of African cous cous. This cous cous is fun and absorbs any flavor you provide. I often make these Caprese-style with roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, but this Mediterranean recipe is tops.
I used Meyer lemons in this recipe, because I have a tree in my backyard. They taste like a cross between an orange and a lemon. They are in season right now, so you might be able to find them at your local grocery store. If you can’t find them, either substitute a regular lemon, an orange, or (best yet) a little bit of both.
You can also omit the shrimp and add some kidney beans for a delicious vegan meal. This recipe serves 4-6 people.
Meyer Lemon Israeli Cous Cous with Shrimp and Olives
- 1 Meyer lemon
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 20- 28 shrimp, shelled
- ⅓ c orange bell pepper, diced
- ⅓ c sweet onion, diced
- 2 cups Israeli cous cous
- splash of sherry or white wine
- 4½ c vegetable stock or water
- 3 t olive oil
- ½ t Dijon mustard
- ⅓ c kalamata olives (sliced in half or left whole)
- a few tablespoons of fresh herbs, either basil, parsley or chives
- Zest the Meyer lemon and cut the zest into small strips the size of matchsticks. Be sure to only get the yellow skin, not the white pith. Squeeze the lemon to get 4 T of juice to set aside.
- At the bottom of a medium pot swirl some olive oil to coat the pan. Heat over a medium high flame. Once hot, add the zest. Cook for about 30 seconds, until it starts to crisp. Quickly remove the zest and add half of the garlic and the shrimp. Season the shrimp with sea salt and black pepper while you saute for 2 minutes. Be sure to keep them moving, so they cook evenly. The residual heat will continue to cook them, so it's best to slightly under-cook them. Squirt with a little lemon juice and set aside with the zest.
- Add a bit more olive oil to the pan if you need it. Add the peppers and onions and season with sea salt and black pepper. Saute for a few minutes, until they soften and are quite fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the cous cous and stir to coat all of it in oil. Allow it to cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until all the little balls are slightly toasted. Add a splash of sherry or wine. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 16 minutes. Remove cover and let it cook for another 3 minutes to lose some liquid.
- While the cous cous is cooking, make a vinaigrette. Add the mustard to the reserved Meyer lemon juice. Whisk in 3 T of olive oil. Season with sea salt and fresh pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- When the cous cous is ready, turn off the flame. Pour the vinaigrette over it and stir. Add the olives, herbs, shrimp, and zest. Serve and enjoy.