Israeli Couscous with Saffron, Toasted Pine Nuts & Currants

This is probably one of my favorite things to pack for my weekday lunches.  It’s relatively easy to make on a Sunday night and will make about 4 portions to pack ahead for the week.  It’s nice because it tastes good at room temperature if you don’t have access to a microwave.


4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice cups (1 1/4 cups)

4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts kept separate)

30 saffron threads (about 1/8 teaspoon)

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

generous pinch ground cinnamon

1 3/4 cups Israeli couscous

1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup currants

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10 inch saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, scallion whites, saffron, red pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. (Meanwhile toast your pine nuts, chop your garlic)

Saffron and onions

2. In a separate container, bring 2 cups water to a boil.

3. To your onion mixture, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the garlic, cinnamon, and continue to cook for one minute more.  Add the couscous with 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir constantly until couscous is lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes more.

4.  Add the water and currants  to the pan with the couscous, stir to combine, cover and cook at simmer over medium-low to low heat until the couscous is tender and has absorbed all the liquid, about 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, chop your parsley)

5.  Add the pine nuts and parsley and toss to combine.  Season to taste with more salt if necessary.  Transfer to a platter or distribute evenly among individual plates, sprinkle the scallion greens on top and serve.

Pine nuts, currants, parsley

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