Thursday, 8 April 2010

Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables with Pearl Couscous

Sigh, missing Gourmet Magazine? I am. Never mind that I have a mountain of back issues, or that I can find most of the recipes online these days, I miss having the rolled up magazine stuffed into my mailbox about a week into the month and seeing Ruth Reichl's beaming face inside the front cover.
There is something about paper copies that I love. That is why, no matter how much online work I do, I will always love solid cookbooks that weigh heavy in my hands and get propped up on my counter, somewhat splattered by the operations of cooking.

This recipe is from the enormous Gourmet Today, which I managed to pick up for a song as it was somewhat mangled in processing. The recipe is also in the June 2006 magazine and online. I love that.

It uses Israeli couscous, or Pearl couscous which, if you haven't tried it, is much more exciting than regular old couscous. It is much larger and benefits from toasting before being cooked. The resulting product rolls on the tongue delicately like soft tapioca pearls and pairs wonderfully with grilled food and bold flavours.

I made this dish using my indoor grill, as it seems that we are having monsoon season here in Canada. I don't mind. It is safe and warm inside and I can see the grass getting greener by the day. A little something to wake up the land after a long but mild winter.

The recipe makes a lot, I made half and would say that it might serve six. I also adjusted the seasoning after tossing the veggies and couscous together. Go to taste. The dish is good warm or room temperature. Enjoy!

Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables with Pearl Couscous
Gourmet | June 2006

yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

This riff on traditional pasta salad gets an added layer of flavor from golden pearls of toasted couscous.


* 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
* 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
* 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
* 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 1/4 cups pearl couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous; 3/4 pound)
* 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl ounces)
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
* 2 lb large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined if necessary (mine were smaller)
* 2 medium red onions (1 pound total)
* 2 pounds large zucchini (about 4), cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
* 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/4 cups)

* Special equipment: about 12 (8-inch) wooden skewers and 20 wooden picks (round, not flat), soaked in water 30 minutes


Whisk together vinegar, oregano, thyme, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl until salt is dissolved. Add 1/3 cup oil in a slow stream, whisking until vinaigrette is combined.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast couscous, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. While couscous toasts, stir together broth, water, and saffron in a large glass measure. Add to couscous with 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir vinaigrette to combine, then stir 2 tablespoons into couscous and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature.

Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and thread 4 or 5 shrimp onto each skewer (don't crowd, or shrimp won't cook evenly).

Peel onions and trim root ends slightly, leaving ends intact, then halve lengthwise and cut halves lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Insert 1 wooden pick through each wedge to hold layers together while grilling, then put onions in a large bowl with zucchini. Toss vegetables with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Grill shrimp skewers on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once with tongs, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer shrimp, discarding skewers, to a clean bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.

Grill vegetables on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, until just tender, about 5 minutes, transferring to bowl as grilled. Remove and discard picks from onions. Drizzle vegetables with remaining vinaigrette and toss to combine.

Spoon couscous onto a large platter or shallow serving bowl. Arrange shrimp and vegetables on top of couscous and sprinkle with feta. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cooks' notes:
·If you aren't able to grill outdoors, shrimp and vegetables can be cooked in a hot lightly oiled well-seasoned large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over moderately high heat. Grill shrimp skewers, turning over once, about 4 minutes total. Grill vegetables, turning over once, about 5 minutes total.
·Vinaigrette can be made 3 hours ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.
·Shrimp skewers can be assembled 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered with plastic wrap.
·Vegetables can be cut and onions can be skewered 2 hours ahead and chilled, covered with plastic wrap.

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