I am thoroughly enjoying Louise Fiszer's columns, alternate weeks, in the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. She writes: "If once-trendy polenta or pasta has appeared too often on your dinner party or luncheon menus, it's time to find a delicious and versatile substitute. "What's new and on the cutting edge of today's fashionable cuisine? Couscous! The very word evokes the dramatic and exotic, yet it is only ground semolina made from hard wheat and it may be classified as a sort of pasta and used as such. "Of course, couscous is not really new at all. It has been a staple food of North Africa for centuries. However, it once took special equipment and a lot of preparation time." She goes on to write about quick-cooking couscous, both tiny-grained and what she says "is an even more glamorous version available today that has turned the heads of star chefs." For a change, I don't have to long for what's on the shelves in the US. It turns out this new gourmet treat <g> is Israeli couscous; even being called "pearl pasta" on "upscale restaurant menus." She writes: "This couscous is larger grained, resembling pearls. When cooked, it yields a most unusual, palate-pleasing texture. Both types of couscous may be used interchangeably in the following ..." Ruth TOMATO EGGPLANT SOUP WITH COUSCOUS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Serves 6 to 8 2 Tablespoons olive oil 1 leek, white part only, thoroughly washed and chopped 2 small Japanese eggplants, peeled and diced 1 can tomatoes, chopped 1 Tablespoons tomato paste 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 cup couscous cooked salt and pepper fresh basil leaves for garnish In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook leek and eggplant until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook until bubbly, about 4 minutes. Add stock and simmer 30 minutes. Puree in a food processor. Return to pot and stir in couscous. Reheat if necessary. Taste for salt and pepper. Garnish with basil leaves. www.jewishsf.com/jb/cook.htm March 5, 1999 (c) 1999, San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc., dba Jewish Bulletin of Northern California.
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