My husband almost had to bring out the straight-jacket. He pretends he doesn't know me when I start to do my happy-dance in the middle of a grocery store aisle. We were in California for a holiday and, as one must do when in California, we made a stop at Trader Joe's. Why, oh why, hasn't Trader Joe's come to Utah? Oh, the humanity! When I saw the boxes of Israeli couscous sitting on the shelf, I started to pull out all of my best moves - the sprinkler, the M.C. Hammer, and even a little Electric Slide. It was not one of my finer moments.
Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, is significantly larger than its traditional cousin. It has a pleasing, chewing consistency, reminiscent of orzo. When toasted, it takes on a rich, nutty flavor that perfectly compliments grilled vegetables. Of course, Israeli couscous is not only available at Trader Joe's. It can be found in many specialty stores and well-stocked supermarkets.
In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1 clove of chopped garlic; whisk together. While continuously whisking, slowly pour in ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Trim ½ pound green beans.
Cut 1 medium-sized and 1 medium-sized yellow squash into quarters lengthwise.
Quarter and seed one red bell pepper.
Place all of the vegetables in a large dish and toss with half of the balsamic vinegar mixture.
Let the vegetables rest for 15 minutes. Don't they look happy?
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
Brush the grill lightly with oil. Place all of the vegetables on the grill, setting the green beans on a vegetable rack. If you don't have a vegetable rack, you can either put the green beans directly on the grill, which may be an exercise in frustration, or saute them in a skillet.
Cook until the vegetables are just cooked through. The green beans will be done before the rest of the vegetables, so be certain to watch them closely.
Remove the vegetables from the grill and cut the zucchini, yellow squash, and red bell pepper into ½-inch pieces, and place them in a large bowl with the green beans. The smell was absolutely glorious!
Heat 1 ¾ cups vegetable broth in small saucepan.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add 8 oz. Israeli couscous and stir constantly until the couscous is lightly golden brown.
Slowly pour in the heated broth, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until the couscous is al dente, about 12 minutes. If you find that the couscous is not quite done, but not all of the liquid is absorbed, add 1-2 tablespoons of hot water and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
Pour the couscous into the bowl with the vegetables, along with ¼ cup basil chiffonade (simply roll the leaves and thinly slice) and 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Pour in some of the remaining vinaigrette. I used about half of it, but pour in as much you like, to your taste.
Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil.