Roasted Red Pepper Couscous with Avocado and Mozzarella

I am so pleased with this simple little recipe, a variation on this original (once again identified in my TastyKitchen perusings). It’s full of flavor. It’s simple and quick. I know I’ll be coming back to it for weeknight meals.

A few things: the avocado and mozzarella are not just garnishes; they are 100% necessary to the dish. Since I used jarred roasted red peppers (my grocery store was out of fresh ones–I wonder if Mardi Gras had something to do with that), the acidity level of the couscous with the sauce would have been too high for me to enjoy it by itself. However, once the avocado and mozzarella were stirred in, everything became balanced and beautiful, and I sighed with pleasure. I used a pinch of sugar to counteract the acidity, but if you roast your own peppers you can probably get by without.

This could work as a fun side dish to fish or chicken, or you can top it off with an egg or two and call it a meal! That’s what we did, and what we will be doing again.

Ingredients

(Serves 2)

1 cup dry Israeli couscous
3 roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 TBS sherry or white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 TBS olive oil
1 pinch sugar, optional (especially if using jarred peppers)
1 whole avocado
1 sprinkling lemon juice
1 cup torn fresh mozzarella or bocconcini
4 fried or hard boiled eggs (optional, to make this into a full meal)

If you’ve never made Israeli couscous, you’re in for a treat. They grains are much larger than ‘regular’ couscous, and have a delightful chew to them when cooked al dente.

I think what I used may be whole wheat, but I bought it so long ago that I can’t remember.

Anyway, Israeli couscous cooks just like pasta, so let’s start off by boiling some water.

When it comes to a boil, add the couscous and cook it for about 7 minutes, until it’s al dente.

All of a sudden I’m looking at that picture and thinking “rabbit food pellets.” Ew. Try not to think that–banish it from your mind! This is not pet food. This is not pet food. Or pet, um droppings.

When it’s done, drain the couscous and pour it back into the pot.

In the meantime, grab ye the remaining ingredients.

Toss the roasted red peppers in a blender.

Examine it from a few different angles, just for the heck of it.

Toss in the peeled garlic cloves, salt and pepper . . .

. . . and the vinegar and olive oil too.

Press blend. It just needs about a minute in there, and you can stop as soon as it’s starting to get smooth. I think that leaving a little texture is quite desirable.

Also, please use a top on your blender. Don’t be like me and have a nearly explosive disaster only averted by the quick placement of the palm of your hand.

Very important step: taste the sauce and if there’s too much acidity, adjust with a pinch of sugar. The acidity will be greater if you use jarred red peppers; roasting your own will probably make the addition of sugar unnecessary. And am I ever glad that further testing is required! I love further testing.

With the heat on medium, add the sauce to the couscous and cook for about 5 minutes.

I love that fiery sunset orange color.

It will start off looking a little soupy, so cook it until the couscous passes the ‘drag’ test (when you drag a spatula across the bottom of the pot, the area doesn’t immediately fill with liquid).

Taste again and adjust the seasoning.

Cut the avocado into slivers, and sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Tear up some fresh mozzarella pieces, or simply use halved bocconcini. Lightly salt both the avocado and the cheese.

Some day I need to sing a canticle in honor of avocado. Words just can’t express my love.

Stir the avocado and mozzarella into the couscous, and serve!

I can’t emphasize enough how necessary the avocado and mozzarella are to this dish. Please believe me. They turn it from ‘meh’ into ‘mwahhahahaaa!!!’

You can make a pretty arrangement with it, but unless there’s a camera involved, it’s probably not worth it. Here’s how it really looks once you start chowing down:

Divine!

If you want to make it into a full meal, top it off with 4 hardboiled or fried eggs (2 per person). That is the absolute best way to eat it.

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17 Responses to Roasted Red Pepper Couscous with Avocado and Mozzarella

  1. Wendi says:

    I would never have thought to pair roasted red pepper and avocado. But now that you say it is divine, I may have to give it a try.

  2. Vicki DeArmeyv says:

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I am so anxious to make it. We are trying to eat more power foods and this is great!! I have the hardest time finding those roasted red peppers. I do them myself but it would be so much easier to buy them.

    • Jenna says:

      Honestly Vicki, I think it would taste even better if you roast the red peppers yourself. The jarred ones definitely had a vinegary taste to them that wouldn’t have happened if I’d roasted them myself. I think the ‘real thing’ would provide a sweeter and deeper flavor than the jarred variety, even if it’s a little more trouble.

  3. I have CLEARLY missed out on a lot, where has my head been?! Dang life getting in the way of my blog reading! This looks so wonderfully delish and guilt free!!

    I’ve been catching up on all your recipes and they all look yum-tastic :)

  4. I have never liked couscous, but this recipe makes me eager to give it another try! So many good flavors going on!

  5. giselle says:

    Jenna! Hello!

    Quick tip – whenever I make tomato sauce, I add a splash of milk. You can’t taste it and it does WONDERS for the acidity. I get heartburn/acid reflux pretty easily and this trick has completely gotten rid of any symptoms from tomato sauce. I bet it would work with this too!

    • Jenna says:

      What a great idea!! I never would have known to do that. Thanks for the tip, Giselle! Next time I make it I’ll be sure to give it a try.

  6. This looks yummy! I don’t have couscous, but I bet it would work with quinoa or millet.

  7. feastonthecheap says:

    That couscous looks so insanely good – I think I may even have all the ingreds in my pantry

  8. Veronica says:

    It’s nice to see a veg meal on your blog! Looks soooo good.

  9. Heh, as soon as I saw the first picture, I was going to comment and ask if that was regular couscous? I love roasted red pepper and have been trying to branch out in our grain eating (we’re purely rice and noodle people up until now) so I’ve definitely bookmarked this recipe!

    PS: Thanks for visiting my blog so I could discover yours- I love your about me page and can’t wait to read about the arrival of little aliens. I’m sure it’ll be a hugely hilarious post :)

    • Jenna says:

      Yeah, I loved discovering the ‘heartier’ Israeli couscous as opposed to the really tiny-grained version. I’m glad to have connected with you!

  10. mmm Israeli couscous is my favorite!

  11. skippymom says:

    That looks like a full meal in and of itself. I don’t think the eggs are even necessary. Although I can ‘t do avocado [don’t want to] it is a lovely dish.

    Looks like Christmas. hee

  12. Julie M. says:

    What an interesting dish! I would have never thought to put these flavors together. But now that I see it, I’m guessing the creaminess of the cheese and avocado really compliments the acidity of the peppers. Thanks for sharing such an interesting recipe!

  13. Hey Jenna, I noticed that you use a Chinese patterened spoon, how cute :) I love the bright orange and soft green-yellow from the avocado, creamy and delicious!

  14. Joanne says:

    I could never ever think of mozzarella or avocado as merely a garnish! That seems heretical. And just backwards. And wrong.

    But this dish? Oh this dish seems oh so right.

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