Monday Night Martha: Shrimp and Pearls

Tonight's meal could also be called "the dinner so nice, we made it twice." The recipe is clipped from this month's Gourmet magazine. You can also find it at Epicurious.

The "pearls" in the title refer to a spherical semolina-based pasta known as Israeli couscous. Unlike its Moroccan counterpart, Israeli couscous is much larger and tastes more like orzo or risotto. This meal is ultra simple to make and takes no more than half an hour, including the time it takes for the water to start boiling.

The most difficult part of making this dish was simply finding the Israeli couscous in our Tempe neighborhood. Skip Safeway and Sunflower Market and head straight to Whole Foods (we didn't check Basha's so cannot report on whether or not they carry it). Whole Foods sells it in their bulk foods section which is great as you don't have to commit to buying an entire box.

The couscous boils freely in water, and it doesn't matter how much water you use because you'll drain it at the end. Three minutes before the couscous is finished cooking, add the sugar snap peas. When you drain the peas & couscous, you probably won't have finished cooking the rest of the dish. That's okay, but stir in a bit of butter so the mix won't get sticky and feel overly starchy.

Make sure you realize (as we did not) that the measurements in the recipe make a meal for one person. We found this out the hard way, assuming it was a meal for two. Our first tip off should have been the moment at the seafood counter when we realized just how few shrimp are in "five ounces." Oh well.

The white wine and tomato sauce is a breeze to make. In the end, you pour the sauce, along with the shrimp, over the Israeli couscous and pea mixture. It's a delicious recipe. The couscous pearls are full and buttery, the sugar snap peas are crispy. It's lovely.

But again, because we didn't realize the recipe is for one, we had leftover peas and couscous. It turned into a blessing in disguise though, and we made the dish again the next day for lunch, using tofu instead of shrimp.

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Rene Gutel
Contact: Rene Gutel