I could eat this pesto couscous with roasted tomatoes every day. And what I love about it is that it gets its flavors not only from awesome ingredients but also from the way the ingredients are cooked. Let’s dive right in!
Roasted cherry tomatoes
These little things have an intensity similar to sun-dried tomatoes and pack a juicy bite. Roasting brings out that sweet cooked-tomato flavor, too.
I adapted this recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini, whose recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes always leaves my mouth watering. Without 2-3 hours to spare, I turned the oven up from 200 to 250 Fahrenheit, so the tomatoes would cook faster. I also didn’t bother to scoop out the seeds and juices because that’s just how I roll.
There are two couscous hacks I’m dying to share.
Cook it in broth, not water
Vegetable broth–well, any kind of broth–can pack incredible flavor and extra nutrition into a dish of couscous. If you use a salted broth, it will permeate the pasta balls, seasoning them on the inside. It makes for a much more balanced saltiness than merely salting when the dish is finished.
Toast the couscous before cooking
This trick I learned from the Lemonade Cookbook whose recipe for Israeli couscous, wild mushroom, parmesan, and lemon-truffle vinaigrette is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Toasting takes the flavor of the couscous to the next level, adding a nutty element to the palate. Of course, toasting is not to be overdone!
Here’s the couscous before toasting:
Here’s the couscous after toasting:
Although I do try to make dishes vegan as much as possible, truth be told, I’d extinguished my parmesan the previous day on a risotto that bordered mac ‘n cheese! So for this pesto, I used all the usual suspects–basil, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, and salt–but no parmesan cheese. Instead, I added the juice of half a lemon, which lightened the entire sauce. I can’t wait to try this recipe on linguini.
This would be great for a multi-salad meal for two. (Yes, I’m into multi-salad meals. No surprises there.) Try it alongside Roasted Zucchini Salad, Green Potato Salad, or Farro with Walnuts and Mushroom Dressing.
Next time I make this recipe, I might consider tripling it. My family was so busy sampling my photo-dish that I was down to just one cup by the time the leftovers went in the fridge!Print
With toasted couscous, roasted cherry tomatoes, and vegan pesto, this recipe will brighten any afternoon meal.
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes
- olive oil for drizzling
- 2 cups Israeli pearl couscous
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup walnuts (generous)
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the roasted tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 250 Fahrenheit.
- Slice cherry tomatoes in half and place them on a baking pan. Drizzle them in olive oil and a pinch of salt and mix well. Make sure cherry tomatoes are cut side up, and then slip them in the oven.
- Bake for about an hour or until the backs of the tomatoes are slightly charred.
For the Couscous
- Heat a ceramic pan over medium low heat. Add the couscous to the pan and toast, stirring constantly, until the couscous turns golden brown. Add the broth and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Cover the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until all the broth is absorbed.
- When finished, use a spoon to separate the couscous and transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
For the pesto
- Add, to a blender or food processor, the basil, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Process on low until rough-chopped.
Put it together
- Mix the couscous, pesto, and tomatoes in a big bowl.
- Eat at room temperature for best results. Enjoy!
Pine nuts can be substituted for walnuts.
Keywords: vegan, salad, couscous, pesto, basil, roasted tomatoes, toasted, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes