Eggplant and Basil with Israeli Couscous

Post image for Eggplant and Basil with Israeli Couscous

by Amy Flanigan on September 2, 2009 · 27 comments

Other than a particular dip that my mom makes with onion, garlic, and roasted eggplant, I’ve never been a fan of the purple vegetable. And who knows – maybe all these years, the only real reason I like her dip is because she serves it on Ritz Crackers. “Everything’s better on a Ritz,” right?

It’s in season, though, so a lot of my wonderful blogger cohorts are posting some fabulous looking eggplant recipes. And the latest issue of EveryDay Food arrived, which showcases it, too. All the beautiful pictures and fantastic descriptions wore me down. I decided to rethink my distaste.

I went with this one recipe, since Martha rarely disappoints. The prep turned out to be super easy, with just a few simple ingredients, and it sure smelled good cooking. And the first bite? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Sweet and buttery. Not bitter at all.

I took another bite. And another. Then decided that I better share.

I started distributing spoonfuls. Paul didn’t care for it. (Not surprised.) And Haley spit it out. (Whatever.) Trevor, on the other hand, loved it, displaying the “more” sign frantically. But his belly could only hold a cup full.

I shoveled one more helping in my mouth, which left me with a perfect amount for lunch the next day. Except then…I ate a little more. And at this point, it seemed silly to save such a small portion.

So I finished it off.

Yes, that’s right. None of it ever left the mixing bowl. I stood there at the kitchen counter, spoon in hand, and polished off the entire amount. The entire amount. I was so full, I didn’t even touch the pita bread I had planned on serving with it.

Serves 4? Hmm. Not this time.


Eggplant and Basil with Israeli Couscous
Serves 4
Prep time: 25 minutes

• 3/4 cup Israeli (pearl size) couscous
• salt and pepper
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
• 3 shallots, trimmed and quartered
• 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
• 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn

In a small saucepan, combine couscous, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the couscous is tender, about 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high. Add eggplant and shallots and stir to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until shallots are caramelized and eggplant is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.

In a serving bowl, combine eggplant mixture and couscous. Stir in vinegar and basil and season salad with salt and pepper.

(originally from Everyday Food)

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer September 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I was finally able to make this yesterday, and I was able to control myself and only eat 1/2 of the recipe!

Even though it looked really good, the eggplant still had me a bit skeptical. Well, skeptics out there, you need not be. This is REALLY GOOD! I actually added one more tsp. of the vinegar for a touch more tanginess, but that’s just a personal thing. SO GOOD!


Jennifer September 17, 2009 at 2:39 pm

I can’t find Israeli couscous to save my life! Yes, I have looked in all sections of the grocery store and even asked the clerks for help. Help!


Kevin September 13, 2009 at 8:40 am

That looks good!


Alice September 11, 2009 at 1:55 am

Eggplant is so versatile! A great vegetable to cook with so many type of methods and combination! This recipe is great!


Natashya September 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I love eggplant, I would be right there with you, shoveling away.


Bellini valli September 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I love the fact that this never even made it to the table. Now that’s some dish.


food-4tots September 6, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I love eggplants and am trying different cooking methods to make my son love eggplants. This one looks great. I will give it a try soon ;)


Christine September 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Looks yummy and I already have eggplant!


Melissa September 4, 2009 at 12:15 pm

You’re adorable. :P


daphne September 4, 2009 at 5:48 am

LOL! U r so funny amy. I have not tried this type of couscous but love the look of it. Certainly the use of eggplant grabbed my attention straight away. I bet it is tasty and healthy!


Amy September 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Jen – the only thing I changed was the amount of eggplant. Their recipe called for a pound, but with my apprehension of not liking it, I just used 1 large eggplant, which I think was 1/2 pound. Personally, even if you love eggplant, I think it was enough. Definitely try and find the Israeli couscous. The big pearl size lends texture to the dish. I find it in the ethnic section of my market.


nora@ffr September 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm

m already craving!! yummmmm!!


Lora September 3, 2009 at 9:51 am

Very cute post! I am dying to find ways to convert the other non-eggplant eaters in my family over. (Yes, that would be all of the other members of my family) But you’ve convinced me it can be done! Thank you for great inspiration.


Jennifer September 3, 2009 at 11:01 am

You are so funny! This whole blog made me giggle.

I don’t think Jay would like this either. I can already hear, “where’s the meat?!” BUT, I can definitely make it for me. The photo makes me drool, and if YOU like it, then I certainly will. Did you change anything from the EveryDay Foods or go “by the book”? I haven’t gotten mine yet.


Jude September 3, 2009 at 9:43 am

Thanks for another veggie recipe, Amy. This sounds tasty, and, dare I say, autumnal? I’ll print it out for Chef Chopper, and get to the market for an eggplant!


Andrea@WellnessNotes September 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

I like eggplant, but I don’t cook with it enough! Thanks for the recipe!


Joanne September 3, 2009 at 5:48 am

Haha! I knew you would be converted. It’s like Natashya commented on one of my many eggplant posts…it’s all about finding the right recipe. I think there are probably very few foods that I don’t like, I just need to find the right way to eat them. The recipe does looks delicious. I personally intend to bookmark it and make it in the near future.


Mike September 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Iiiinteresting. I had a similar experience with eggplant. Not sure I’d say I “like” it yet, but I did have it in a recipe a few months ago that was REALLY good. (I believe it was at Heidi’s restaurant in Minneapolis.) It’s all in the prep. All in the prep.


Lisa September 2, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I’ve had some bad experiences with eggplant parmesan that have pretty much made me swear off this vegetable, but I certainly recognize there are plenty of other ways to prepare it. You sure make a pretty strong case for giving it another shot, though.


Natasha - 5 Star Foodie September 2, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I would have eaten that whole portion too, looks delicious with the Israeli couscous!


pam September 2, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Bless you! I just glumly picked up another bag of eggplant from my CSA, and I totally stumped for ideas to try next!


Cookie September 2, 2009 at 6:10 pm

My honey just discovered how much he liked couscous last week and I can’t wait to make this for him! I’m guessing I could probably sub regular couscous if I can’t find the Israeli kind right? I LOVE eggplant dishes!


Alina September 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I love eggplant too :) And I love simple recipes :) And the eggplant in your picture is so golden and delicious!..


Steph September 2, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I love eggplant!! This sounds outstanding. I can always count on you to provide me with SIMPLE yummy dinners/lunches, Amy. You the bomb!


Scott September 2, 2009 at 11:49 am

I’m usually partial to meals with meat in them, but I’ve had some tasty vegetarian dishes in the last year or so. And I actually like eggplant, maybe in part because of it’s meaty texture. This looks really good. I’m not familiar with israeli couscous – is that sold in the same section as the regular couscous?


Mellissa September 2, 2009 at 8:50 am

This looks really good, I read Everday Food as well and saw all the eggplant recipes and was disappointed. I need to give it another shot.


jive turkey September 2, 2009 at 8:20 am

YUM. Brad isn’t a huge eggplant fan, so if I make this, I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself inhaling the whole thing as well. INCLUDING the cup that your son ate, because I do not have a son.


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