A Really Great Side Dish


There are certain blogs that I trust implicitely for great recipes.
David Lebovitz' is one of them.

His book has never let me down, and anything I have made from his site has turned out better than good.

This is his favorite side dish, and is now one of mine.

It is time consuming, but oh so worth it.

It was somewhat difficult to find preserved lemons. So, you can either make them at home from this recipe, buy them at a Middle Eastern market, or order them online at Sur la Table, like I did!

Try it for your next dinner party, it serves 8.

FYI: Israeli or pearl couscous is not the regular small size couscous, but a bigger, fluffier version. It is a pasta product, not a grain.

Israeli Couscous w/ Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemon: (adapted from Gourmet Magazine & David's site):

1 1/2-pounds (1.25 kg) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and minced
1 3/4 cup (280 g) Israeli couscous, or Italian pepe-style pasta
1 small cinnamon stick
1 preserved lemon
1/2 cup (60 g) golden raisins
1/4 cup (30 g) dried cherries or cranberries, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (60 g) chopped flat-leaf parsley
2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (see Note)

Preheat the oven to 450F (245C).

1. Cut the squash into 1/4-inch (1 cm) cubes and toss them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a seasoning of salt in a large baking dish or pan.

2. Cook on the upper rack of the oven until the squash is just tender, about 15 minutes. (Don't overcook.)

3. While the squash is cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and cook the onions over medium-high heat with a bit of salt until translucent.

4. Scrape cooked squash & onions together in a large bowl.

5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the Israeli couscous with the cinnamon stick until tender, about 10 minutes.

6. While the couscous cooks, cut the preserved lemon in quarters and scoop out the insides. Reserve the flesh for squeezing.
Dice the lemon into 1/4-inch (1 cm) cubes, add them to the squash, then press the reserved flesh through a strainer to extract the liquid, and add the liquid to the squash.

7. Drain the couscous and discard the cinnamon stick.

8. Add the couscous to the bowl of squash, then add the raisins, ground cinnamon, parsley, and toasted pine nuts.

Serving: Serve warm, although it can also be served at room temperature.

Note: To toast pine nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and toast them in a 350F (180C) oven, checking and stirring them frequently, until nutty-brown, as shown in the photo in the post. Pine nuts burn quite easily so begin checking them after 4-5 minutes, then keep a close an eye on them after that.



George Gaston said…
Stacey, this does look like a great side dish. Recently I made something similar using orange marmalade. I'll have to give this a try. Thanks...
The JR said…
I've never used several of those ingredients. It is a very pretty side dish and I'm sure it is great tasting.
Bob said…
Awesome. Definitely want some.
I can't get enough of butternut squash, this sounds so good, but you know, I never used preserved lemons, never even tasted them. Whats wrong with me? Are they sweet tasting?
Lisa said…
I found this on David's blog and have made this twice now. We love it! I made it to go with braised lamb shanks and it was a perfect accompaniment for the lamb.
The preserved lemons add a nice flavor, combined with the squash and the raisins. Very tasty!
Dana said…
Wow, sounds fantastic! I saw some preserved lemons in our Italian market and snatched them up but have never used them. I need to try this before squash season ends. I LOVE Israeli cous cous!
Jen_from_NJ said…
I have never tried preserved lemons - I'll have to change that! I love the combination of ingredients. Looks amazing!
Joanne said…
Delicious. leibowitz definitely knows his stuff.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ciao Chow Linda said…
I've always wanted to try using preserved lemons and now you've given me another reason to do so. It looks really terrific Stacey.
Wow. I didn't realize you could buy preserved lemons. How interesting. Now I have no excuse not to use them.
Great side dish Stacey.
kat said…
some wonderful flavors happening there
Lisa said…
It is very easy (and cheaper!) to make your own preserved lemons. David Lebovitz has the recipe posted on his blog. I made some in December and they should keep until June! Now I just need some more recipes to use them up!
Angela said…
I'm a huge fan of preserved lemons. This looks healthy and delicious and I love the flavor combination of the tart lemon with the sweet cranberry and cinnamon. I just forwarded this to a friend who is making them now. Thanks, Stacey!
Lori Lynn said…
That sounds terrific. I am on the lookout for preserved lemons, I can use them in my tagines too.