Photo by Jessica Yager Photography

Mediterranean Couscous Pilaf

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This versatile couscous recipe is courtesy of Lisa Prince Newman, author of the bestselling cookbook/memoir For the Love of Apricots: Recipes & Memories of the Santa Clara Valley, now in its second printing.

Lisa’s cookbook features recipes that use apricots in every form: fresh, dried, preserved, and liqueurs so you can enjoy the wonderful taste, brilliant color, and health benefits of apricots all year long. “This recipe comes from Chef Heidi Krahling, owner of Insalata’s Restaurant,” says Lisa, a favorite Mediterranean fine-dining establishment in Marin County California. “I have gently adapted Heidi’s Couscous Pilaf recipe to present dried apricots in a tasty, colorful medley of nuts, fruits, and herbs.”

Apricots have very little sugar and are a great source of many antioxidants, including beta carotene and vitamins A, C, and E. Plus apricots add brilliant color and a bright, tangy flavor to every dish. Couscous, which is grain-based, has fewer calories than rice or quinoa. Lisa points out, “This couscous comes together quickly. The dried apricots and nuts provide hints of sweetness and crunch, while spices like cinnamon and turmeric supply a depth of flavor that will keep you coming back for more. This recipe is a wonderful addition to weeknight dinners or casual get-togethers.”

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pistachios or almonds

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3 cups water

1 teaspoon fine sea salt (for boiled water)

2 cups couscous

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup diced scallions

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/3 cup dried currants (or golden raisins)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (for general seasoning)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

 

Serves 8.

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread the nuts on a baking pan and toast, stirring once, until lightly browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

Combine the water and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

In a medium saucepan, combine the couscous, cinnamon, and turmeric, and mix well. Add the oil and stir well to coat the grains. Add the boiled water gradually, mixing well.

Cover with a lid and let sit for 15 minutes until the grains are tender. If needed, add a little more boiling water, and let the couscous sit for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the warm couscous, nuts, scallions, apricots, currants, cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper. Toss to mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature. This pilaf can be made up to 4 hours in advance and kept covered at room temperature.

With beautiful pictures and sumptuous recipes, the For the Love of Apricots Cookbook will take you on a nostalgic journey with Lisa Prince Newman, an accomplished home cook and city planner. Short essays sprinkled throughout the cookbook evoke the region’s 100-year orchard era and the rapid transformation of the Santa Clara Valley, affectionately known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” into Silicon Valley.

ORDER TODAY: For the Love of Apricots Cookbook makes a perfect gift for friends and family. Lisa will personally sign and include a special Apricot Bookmark in every cookbook she ships. A For the Love of Apricots Tote Bag is available for sale on her website.

To order, go to: http://fortheloveofapricots.com/

For the Love of Apricots: Recipes & Memories of the Santa Clara Valley by Lisa Prince Newman Published by Prince of the Orchards Publications, 2020, 178 pages Food Photography Copyright © 2018, 2020 by Jessica Yager Photography

Orchard Photography Copyright © 2018, 2020 by Eric Larson

For the Love of Apricots: Recipes & Memories of the Santa Clara Valley is also available at local California apricot growers. Check out Lisa’s Apricot Shop to source apricots year-round at California orchards through mail order and at: http://fortheloveofapricots.com/shop-for-apricots/

For the latest news, go to: https://www.facebook.com/FortheLoveofApricots/

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