Israeli Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes

  • 2 pt red grape or cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 lb)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, left unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/4 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme 
Serves 6

The beauty of this dish is it can be served warm or cold.   We will often prepare everything prior to a trip and toss the dish in a reusable plastic container in the cooler and serve it chilled on the trail.   Conversely, you can serve the dish warm by preparing everything, except cooking the couscous, at home and toss it together on the trail.

Israeli couscous, known other places in the world as ptitim, is a large pearl shaped pasta made from wheat and can be found in the ethnic sections of larger grocery stores.   Israeli couscous should not be confused with standard couscous, which is much smaller in size.   We purchased our Israeli couscous from our local organic foods co-op.

Pre-Trip Preparation
Preheat oven to 250°F.

Halve tomatoes through stem ends and arrange, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan. Add garlic to pan and roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are slightly shriveled around edges, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes.
We made a double recipe for our last outing. Here you
can see our tomatoes and garlic ready for the oven.
Tomatoes and garlic fresh from the oven.

Peel garlic and puree with oil, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, thyme, mint, parsley, and 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes in a blender until dressing is very smooth.

Bring broth to a boil and stir in couscous, then simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. The couscous should fully absorb the broth by the end.

Spread couscous in a single layer on a baking sheet and cool 15 minutes. Transfer couscous to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, dressing, roasted tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.   Place in a reusable plastic container and store in the cooler.
Preparation on the Trail

Follow the pre-trip preparation instructions but reserve cooking the couscous until on the trail.   Place the sauce, tomatoes, and olives in a small reusable plastic container and store in the cooler.   When on the trail, boil the couscous in the chicken broth.   When the couscous is fully cooked and absorbed the broth, remove from the heat and let cool for a couple of minutes.   Combine the couscous with the remaining ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.