Monday, July 29, 2013

The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 6

Semolina is the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum used in making pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings, and couscous. Semolina is derived from the Italian word semola, meaning 'bran', and from the ancient Latin simila, meaning 'flour'. It is called smida (pronounced "smeeda") in Moroccan Arabic. It is the endosperm (or heart) of durum wheat kernel, which is yellow in color. Although semolina is famously used to make pasta or couscous, it also makes a very flavorful, chewy bread.

Durum is the hardest of all wheat varieties that contains very high gluten content and high protein. Once purified, semolina contains trace minerals, such as: phosphorus, zinc and magnesium, which are beneficial for the health of your bones and nervous system. Semolina is also known to improve kidney function, because of its potassium content.

In much of North Africa, durum semolina is made into the staple couscous - a dish of the same name.  Couscous is prepared and steamed over a soup or stew made primarily of chicken or lamb with vegetables. Some of the grain purchased in supermarkets is not actually couscous, and is instead a very fine cut pasta referred to as patina. Today 'made from scratch' couscous made from semolina is a more time consuming task.

As you will see in the video demonstration, the couscous is prepared in a double pot process, with the top pot providing the steam for the grain. You don't need to purchase the pot, since it can be done by just lining a colander with cheese cloth.

You would then set it over the soup of a large pot deep enough so that the couscous does not touch the broth and let it steam uncovered until tender. A good recipe will have full instructions and tips for making the perfect couscous.

Here's a demo of Couscous Tfaya in Caramelized Onions. The written recipe can be found on her site.

(YouTube link)

Israeli Couscous
Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous, is similar to regular couscous in that it's a small, whole grain-like food made from semolina or wheat flour. Others might know it as "pearl couscous", "Jerusalem couscous", or, as it is known in Israel, "ptitim". Bob's Red Mill labels their product "Natural Pearl Couscous".

To prepare Israeli or pearl couscous, you'll need about 1 1/4 cups of water or vegetable broth for every 1 cup of dry grain. Simmer the grains on your stovetop, covered, for about 10 minutes. The grains fluff up just slightly. Like barley, they have more an "al dente" mouth feel when when done cooking.

Here's a recipe for Israeli Couscous.

Curried Cranberry Couscous Pilaf
Prep Time: 5 minutes  Cook Time: 10 minutes  Makes: 4
  • 1-1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock 
  • 1 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup NatureBox Cranberry Jubilee
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1.  In a medium saucepan, bring vegetable stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in couscous and curry powder. Reduce heat to medium; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until couscous is tender. Drain off any remaining liquid.
2.  Add chickpeas, Cranberry Jubilee, and oil; toss to combine. Transfer to serving bowl; garnish with parsley.

Source for recipe

Related Posts
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 1
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 2 (Quinoa)
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 3 (Bulgur)
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 4 (Freekah)
The Mediterranean Way to Eat: Grains - Part 5 (Farro) 

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