pearl couscous with sweet potatoes, pistachios, and herbs

pearl couscous with sweet potato herbs and pistachios 2

Several weeks ago when one of my favorite food bloggers, Faith of An Edible Mosaic, announced that she was co-hosting a Food Blogger Cookbook Swap with Alyssa from Everyday Maven, I jumped on board right away. I sent The Turkish Kitchen over to Karen of Kitchen Treaty, a cookbook I picked up in a bookstore off the winding streets of Cihangir, Istanbul back in 2012.

I received The Meat Free Monday cookbook from Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler. The cookbook was edited by Stella, Paul, and Mary McCartney. I knew that Paul McCartney was a vegetarian, which of course I learned from The Simpsons. Although I’ve seen mention of meat free Mondays/meatless Mondays on food blogs over the years, I had no idea that they were the ones who launched the campaign back in 2009. Even though I’ll chant “you don’t win friends with salad” until the end of my days, that’s really only because it’s catchy and doesn’t necessarily reflect the way I eat. I was excited to dive into the cookbook.

meat free monday cookbook and izzy goo in her sunny seatBonus Izzy shot

I grew up in a typical steak and potatoes American household, where a meal without meat is not a meal at all. To this day, my dad’s preferred dinner includes a giant slab of meat, with a side of potatoes or rice, and some vegetables. I was such a picky eater as a kid and hated most meat. My mom bought chicken nuggets for me over and over again until I learned to like them, since she was worried I didn’t eat enough meat. I’m still a picky meat eater, I only buy about 5-6 pounds of meat a month for the two of us, mostly ground beef and lamb. I prefer meat as an enhancement to a dish rather taking center stage, like slipping ground meat into sauces, sprinkling a little bit of sausage over a pizza, and adding chicken stock to a soup. If you serve me a giant slab of chicken breast, I’ll take a couple bites and dump it onto Cory’s plate when he’s not looking. Or when he’s looking. It just ain’t my thing, so many of the recipes in the Meat Free Monday cookbook are right up my alley. The cookbook is divided into 52 chapters, with meal plans for every Monday of the year — meatless breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts.

One recipe in particular that caught my eye was a pearl couscous and sweet potato dish. Surprise, I found a recipe with a Middle Eastern-inspired slant and had to make it. You start off by sauteing the pearl couscous until lightly browned. I hadn’t prepared couscous that way before and was delighted to discover that it gave the couscous a slightly nutty taste. Pistachios give this dish a nice crunch and raisins are added for a pleasant burst of sweetness. The recipe calls for a tablespoon of za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix that consists of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Sumac can be found at any Middle Eastern grocery, but if you don’t want to run out and buy some just for one recipe, just add a little more lemon to this dish, since sumac is sour. Cory and I have been eating this for lunch and loving it. If you love leftovers as much as I do, double the recipe and lunch is covered for the week. Thanks for the sweet new cookbook, Cher!

pearl couscous with sweet potato herbs and pistachios

Other news:
– Happy birthday, mom! I can’t believe you’re 39 again!
– Big batch of new save the dates are available in the shop, with more coming this weekend. Since you read the blog, feel free to use the coupon code BLOGLOVE10 to receive 10% off your order.

Pearl Couscous with Sweet Potatoes, Pistachios, and Herbs
Adapted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon maple syrup
6 tablespoons olive oil (2 for the sweet potatoes, 2 for sauteing the couscous, and 2 for just before serving)
1 1 3/4 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon za’atar (1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon sumac, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds)
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/3 cup freshly chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400F.

Add the sweet potatoes to a roasting pan, coat them with olive oil, a little bit of salt and pepper, and maple syrup. Mix thoroughly. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, check on the sweet potatoes to see if they’re cooked through. Once the potatoes are tender and caramelized around the edges, they’re ready. If they need more time, put them back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, get the couscous ready. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan or stock pot over low-medium heat. When hot, add the couscous and stir frequently. Keep the couscous cooking until it begins to brown, or about 5-7 minutes. Add half of the stock or water and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often until the couscous is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Continue adding the liquid until absorbed, stirring frequently. Taste test the couscous for doneness. When cooked through, lower the heat to very low and stir in the raisins, chopped up pistachios, za’atar, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice, mix, and give a taste test. Add more lemon juice, if necessary. Mix in the parsley and cilantro.

By now, the sweet potatoes should be ready. Mix them into the pot. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Serves 4

Want to see more from the Food Blogger Cookbook swap? Here is the list of all the participants. Yay, food!

A Baker’s House
An Edible Mosaic
Blue Kale Road
Blueberries And Blessings
Cheap Recipe Blog
Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Create Amazing Meals
Cucina Kristina
Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Cupcake Project
Dinner is Served 1972
Done With Corn
Eats Well With Others
Everyday Maven
Flour Me With Love 
From My Sweet Heart 
Great Food 360° 
Healthy. Delicious. 
I’m Gonna Cook That! 
Je Mange la Ville 
Karen’s Kitchen Stories 
Kitchen Treaty 
Olive and Herb
OnTheMove-In The Galley 
Our Best Bites 
Paleo Gone Sassy
poet in the pantry 
Rhubarb and Honey 
Rocky Mountain Cooking
Shikha la mode 
Shockingly Delicious
Sifting Focus 
Spoonful of Flavor 
Tara’s Multicultural Table 
The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler 
The Suburban Soapbox 
The Whole Family’s Food 

Share your thoughts. Don't be a weenie.
  1. Cher says:

    I am glad to hear the book made it to you. That dish looks like a great selection!

    It has been fun getting to know your blog.

  2. Ansh says:

    I also prefer the meat to be an enhancement in the dish. I can’t eat big chunks of meat even when they are in the tandoori form.

    Love your blog. It was nice to discover your blog through the book swap, Rose.

  3. Jordan says:

    Wasn’t this swap fun?

    I’ve never cooked with Israeli couscous… looks like you kinda cook it risotto style? I’m with you, I really prefer meat as the side and veggies in the starring role, so I will definitely be trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Jenna says:

    Great review – and looks like a great book too! We just started doing meatless Mondays at our house and this looks like a winner! Glad to discover your blog through participating in the swap – beautiful site!

  5. Susan says:

    This was really fun – and, you learn something new everyday! I had no idea that’s how Meatless Mondays started.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. Eileen says:

    Ooh, this sounds so good! I love pearl couscous and am very intrigued to try mixing it up with sweet potato. Yay!

  7. Tara says:

    I never knew the origin of Meatless Mondays either! Such a great looking meal. I love Israeli couscous.

  8. SeattleDee says:

    Yum! this sounds delicious and it’s always great to have one more way to use za’atar. The cookbook sounds like a great way to move me further along the meat-as-condiment trail.

  9. Kimberly says:

    I love Israeli couscous … and this dish sounds amazing! It is definitely going on my to-make list!

    Great to meet you through the Food Blogger Cookbook Swap!

    ~Kimberly from Rhubarb and Honey

  10. Rose…I am loving seeing what cookbooks everyone else got! I grew up on meat and potatoes, too. But I really welcome the idea of going meatless once a week. Your couscous and sweet potato dish is beautiful! Those colorful sweet potatoes are really the highlight of the dish, you don’t even miss the meat! So glad to have connected with you through the swap! : )

  11. Looks like Cher did right by you! I’m married to a man just like your dad. Unless there’s big slab of meat and a mound of potatoes, it’s not a meal. Gorgeous dish.

  12. Thank you so much for participating in the swap and helping to make it a success! The dish you made looks amazing and is right up my alley – I think I could eat it every day and be a happy girl! :)

  13. Adriana says:

    I like making a similar dish to this one but with quinoa. How prettily the sweet potatoes pop from the picture.

  14. Christy says:

    Don’t you just love Cher. She has the best sense of cookbooks. Your blog is so lovely and I’m glad to have discovered it through the cookbook swap.

  15. Rose, Thanks for participating! I just checked out your Etsy store and it’s awesome. I’ll favorite and keep in mind for sure. You got a great cookbook and this dish looks delicious.

  16. That cous cous is exactly my style! Nicely done for the swap!

  17. Joanne says:

    I have this cookbook and it’s one of my favorites!! That’s one recipe I haven’t made from it yet, but I absolutely MUST before winter is over!!


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