Picnic Perfect Israeli Couscous

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It’s almost time for Thanksgiving! Whether you are hosting it yourself or just bringing a side dish to the celebration, why not offer your guests something just a little bit unexpected? While I know my dream of throwing a Moroccan themed Thanksgiving will never come to fruition, (my family likes to keep it traditional) I can still sneak in the occasional side dish with some Mediterranean flavors!

This is a great potluck dish because it can be eaten hot or cold. It has big, bright sweet and savory flavors and makes a pretty accompaniment on any plate. I originally created this recipe for an outdoor picnic brunch, hence the name, so as you can see it is a quite the versatile side dish!

Picnic Perfect Israeli Couscous

makes about 10 servings

3.5 cups vegetable broth

1 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 cups Israeli Couscous

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 orange bell pepper, finely chopped

zest + juice of one small lemon

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/3 chives, finely choppped

1/3 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup yellow raisins, roughly chopped

2 tsp red pepper flakes (or adjust to your spiciness preference)

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

1 additional splash of olive oil

 

Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the olive oil, couscous, orzo, and quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes.

While that’s cooking, get all your other ingredients chopped up. Once the couscous mixture is cooked, stir in all the remaining ingredients. Keep the pot over the heat and stir for a couple minutes to let all the flavors really blend. Serve hot or cold!

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Herbs and Olives Tapenade

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My friend Kelly had heard good things about this bakery called Gjusta, so she and I went for a sunny bike ride around Venice beach yesterday with the plan to stop there on our ride home. This bakery was really cool. So cool in fact, that they didn’t even have a sign or an address number on their plain white building, but it was bustling with patrons nonetheless. In fact, I don’t think they even have a website, bold move Gjusta. After spotting a chef in the back wearing a Gjelina hat, it all made sense. Gjusta and it’s ever-hip Abbot Kinney sister restaurant Gjelina have the same owners.  The interior was a long narrow space, the walls were lined with loafs of crusty bread and the cases were full of rustic looking pastries and cakes. It was heavenly. I got some juice and carrot cake, and Kelly got two baguettes and some olive tapenade.

This tapenade was KILLER. It was so good, I had to go straight home and try to recreate it. Which is exactly what I did.

I couldn’t tell if my tapenade was really as amazing as I thought it was, until my harshest critic (a.k.a. my husband) turned down his steak and mashed potato dinner, and ate the entire bowl of tapenade with some spicy crackers instead. Veggie power!

By the way, my friend Kelly has a pretty awesome blog herself, check it out to read about her world traveling adventures!

Herbs and Olives Tapenade

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

1.5 cups mixed black and green pitted Greek olives (not from a can!)

2 fat garlic cloves, minced

1 tbs fresh chopped parsley

2 tsp fresh chopped thyme

1/4 cup first cold pressed olive oil

a few grinds of black pepper

1 tbs capers

Mince the olives, the finer the better, but not into liquified mush. Add the other ingredients and toss to combine. Serve with some sliced baguette or crackers. Tapenade also makes a lovely condiment for sandwiches.

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